JULY 21, 2020
For certain the aging Boomer generation is also proving to be the most at risk for catching Covid-19 given their natural aging processes and also the acquired health maladies older people tend to get when life finally catches up with the earlier excesses placed on our bodies. But also when we age, child rearing fades away as children come of age and leave home to start their own lives and families. Daily care and responsibilities required of parents when the young vanish when older. A natural progression is that older folks tend to withdraw more from society and social encounters when retirement sets in. In other words… and very generally speaking… aging and retired Boomers typically stay at home more because they have less need or desire to engage in the rapid pace of life in general. This helps to explain that the current outbreak is not being led by the at-risk Boomers but the age groups more engaged in life’s daily activities outside of home, like jobs, kids, etc. For us Boomers our frame of mind, sense of priorities, is already focused on a measure of age isolation to fit our situation. Hence we are perhaps slightly better prepared to endure a longer lockdown than the other younger age groups.
I’ve felt that already during the first shutdown. I’ve had a lifetime of dealing with people… a stint in the military, owned three businesses in my life, in corporate management, active with the kids activities and meeting other parents, civic responsiveness… really nothing not experienced by most folks one way or the other. But now I find I want less of that in my waning years. I looked at my significant other in the middle of the last shutdown and rather shrugged, and said, “What’s the big deal.” Of course, my pantry was stocked with food I should never, ever eat (diet-wise… but if times get bad who cares?) and the TV and the lights still turned on… so I felt like a fat cat being “condemned” to stay at home. Can’t get Covid doing that and it’s no big lifestyle change. We don’t have kids that need to go to school, they are living lives in other states, and we don’t have aging parents to take care of as they all passed on decades ago.
But of course I understood then, and understand now, that regardless of how “insulated” I might feel from the world around me as a lifestyle, there is still the realization that what happens to the world around me will affect me as well. I know the broader picture is for the country…. and that I would be included in any national pandemic somewhere along the line, like with the economy, health care (and Lord only knows how long the monthly Social Security checks will hold out), etc. Also, the category “loved ones” often extends to simple friends and neighbors we connect with in our normal daily routines, so there is a caring for others in all this even though I think I am sitting good.. at the moment. But maybe that’s how we individually live through all this… by taking the pieces and parts of our situation that we can “digest” a little more easier for ourselves, rather than getting frustrated trying to include it all. Let the leaders-who-are-not-leading handle the big stuff.. and we focus on that which we have some measure of control… which for most of us is simply being able to meet our daily needs and survive to the next day. Think less about being angry at the incompetence around us.. and think more about how you and the family will make it through all this. Focus on self.. because most certainly the government isn’t stepping up to the plate to bail you out all that quickly.
So, What Can You Do?
This isn’t like entering into the zombie apocalypse or even the collapse of the Western world, where we need to turn into survivalists and run off to some underground bunker somewhere. Historically this is a virus that will run its course within the human population; this isn’t a planet-killer nor is it the level of a bubonic plague. For sure it will affect our economy for years to come… very likely cripple it, but it will not likely destroy the economy. Civilization will stay intact. What makes me so sure? Because there are indeed mediation techniques… SIMPLE mediation techniques (if we would just adhere to them), and science will indeed catch up. Oh for sure, more people will die before this is over, and many more will suffer the lingering effects of having survived this thing. Our lifestyles will most certainly change.. or rather, adapt. Those of us recovering from an unexpected loss of a loved one to this virus is often stress enough on top of everything else going on.
The best way to illustrate a “survival” mindset… and again, I don’t mean that as some lock & loaded, freeze dried MRE’s, survivalist mindset… is to present my own particular process from which you might adapt to fit your needs. You will recall that as we entered the first shutdown months ago there was the mad dash everyone made to get disinfectants, hand wipes, and of course, toilet paper. If it’s important to you to have those items then don’t wait for the next shutdown to stock up. But let’s start even earlier here.
Your Last Will & Testament. Again, Be Prepared
Perhaps the one single “housekeeping” thing you should have done by now is get your Last Will and medical decisions (medical power of attorney) and DNR (do not resuscitate) forms completed and notarized/witnessed. Most folks never think of that, especially the young because they will live forever anyway (I thought I would at that age; only now I am beginning to wonder). No one expects to die in a pandemic. Be prepared in case. Make sure others you live with know where these documents are stored, and that you know where their documents are stored.
Stay At Home As Best You Can
Now, that’s easy for a senior to say given my sphere of immediate responsibility is only to my significant other. But explore the other avenues if you have others, maybe children, living with you. Obviously you can’t stick at home without going out sometime… but the goal would be not to mix with the public in public areas too often and certainly have the mask and distancing down. In our case we are scheduling our time for our store jaunts at the designated “senior” times.. and we do it all at one time. We minimize the need for both of us to go together. I’m a Home Depot kinda guy.. usually tinkering or building something. I will drop her off at the grocery or Walmart as I do a run to the Depot. Again.. we try and go at low times of the day.. gazing at parking lots to see how busy they might be… and pass it up if it looks too crowded. Early into the first shutdown we would don some outer wear protection and a couple eye goggles that made us look like a pair of those cartoon Minions when heading off. After driving home… pop open the garage door, and dive in there to strip down to our undies (generally after shutting the garage door)… tossing our clothing into the laundry right away. Then we wash down what we bought with the hand wipes.
Now, that might sound a tad extreme and a bit comical… but consider the risk. Both me and her are at the high risk age, and I have Type II diabetes. We ASSUME we will not survive getting this thing, and if in some way we defy those odds we will most certainly have some diminished capacity that will inhibit us from returning to the way we were before all this. Obviously, neither of us wants to watch the other head off to the hospital with the very real prospect that they will die alone, on a breathing machine, then their body placed in a refrigerated trailer behind the hospital indefinitely. So, truly, there’s no margin for error, therefore we avoid playing with the numbers and percentages floating around that seem to change daily… and provide defiance fodder for Trump supporters. Now since the ridiculous knee jerk “grand opening” following the first shutdown of the economy, we have slacked our quasi “hazmat” routine a bit given our geographic location has been very minimally affected (so far) and it seems the “it-can-enter-the-eyes” threat is not overly mentioned anymore. Again.. common sense does say that things DO enter the eyes.. so I do wear my reading glasses in the hopes of “deflecting” any airborne nasties as I walk the aisles, while avoiding passing anyone. Here’s the point of all this. We simply do not know enough of what this bug can do and how it does what it does. We need to prepare for the unknown by considering measures of protection that might seem extreme, yet we may never know if it works… other than we hope we never get it. I do not wear gloves. If I get Covid will I ever know it was because I didn’t wear gloves? But I do wash my hands frequently and I TRY to refrain from touching my face. At no time do I consider myself “safe”… but maybe I’ve lowered my chances of getting it considerably… the rest is up to divine intervention or the chance of fate… or my Viking “O+” genetics… or all the above.
I Currently Work, Hence My Economic Situation Is Not Like The Many Who Have Found Themselves Unemployed Over All This.
I mentioned earlier I do work at a county office as a security guard. Since the last shutdown street traffic has diminished greatly so it’s fairly easy to keep social distance, and the mask. But regardless, I am not at home, safe and presumably insulated from the world. There is a risk.. albeit quite minimal.. and all for what? Well, a paycheck. While the both of us are at retirement age I stay employed for two reasons at this point… the first is the obvious, I need the income to afford renting my home and other bills. The second reason… I’m in denial about growing old and the stopping of being employed is the final act of removal from being relevant in the world. Also, it seems people tend to die shortly after retiring. Funny thing about that second reason… since the pandemic, the shutdowns, openings, etc. , has fed a desire to consider retirement because with the world slowing down.. I feel I can legitimately slow down as well and not feel guilty in some way. Strange how we think. But then that brings up another consideration…. What would have to occur at my work to make me want to leave for fear of a Covid risk becoming greater? Now we are entering a different world of considerations.
The Old Line-In-The_Sand….
I sense there will soon be a line in the sand for me to make a decision that my job is not worth the risk I am expected to take just for a paycheck. While we will not be left totally without an income, it is a fixed income and much less than I would be making at my job. So I will be forced to scale down my expenses, which means a different place to live and some lifestyle changes. The good part of all this.. I can be as “stuck” at home (wherever that ends up being) as I wish. But downscaling means my tinkering hobby vanishes (no workshop), my ham radio/electronics hobby ends (likely no antennas on the roof of wherever I end up), a huge yard sale for the mass dump of stuff, and the rest of my life sitting around avoiding the bug until the organs shut down. Not an appealing prospect to be sure. But likely a necessary sacrifice to simply live another day.
I want the flexibility to quit my job (Oh dear.. the last one I may ever have. How sad.) on a moments notice. By that I mean, if some arbitrary rule or regulation or procedure comes down from above that poses a risk to me I will resign post haste (Forget that two week courtesy notification nonsense. Who would I be impressing to give a good word at my “next” job?). I anticipate I will have about 60 days in the budget in my current home to take care of all the “junk” I’ve collected over the years, and look for another place.
But here’s another thought. Would there ever be a reason for me to quit the job and consider leaving town completely due to some local infestation of Covid going around where I wouldn’t dare to even risk a trip to the market? If so, where would I even go? What if the local community is in the middle of a shutdown.. and the stores are closed or out of items.. like food? In fact… the political mood could change very easily in the coming months resulting in… well, that’s the whole point, we have NO idea where anything is headed right now, pandemic, politics, or otherwise. I’m not suggesting some Armageddon/apocalypse.. just enough of a disruption to make a local change to avoid a risk.
Keep in mind that this plan of mine, which considers the possibility of us having to leave town, simply addresses my own particular situation of anticipated urgency should that time ever arises. If anyone reading this owns their home outright or even has a monthly mortgage payment you might prefer to stay at your place a bit longer. But if a Covid reason develops where you have to consider leaving town, you could just lock up the place and take a few belongings and head up to Aunt Edna’s cabin in the mountains for the duration.
In Part 4 we will look at my own personal preparedness plan for my particular situation and priorities.
PROCEED TO PART 4 HERE
Return to Part 2 HERE
Return to Part 1 HERE