Yes, it has been a long year, maybe in part because it has been more than a year of this pandemic and subsequent shutdown and quarantine. My photo here is someone’s intentional or unintentional way of putting this quarantine behind them. I see more face masks each day in my walks. I’m certain you have too. Normal is not some quantifiable goal like a lower infection rate or higher vaccination rate. Normal is not going to be the way things “used to be.” It’s not even a new place to stand…a new normal; instead, it’s going to be a moving target which is why I am calling it a NOW Normal.
Take small steps within your comfort zone, because “now normal” can change as new facts become available. As you look for the information to help you chart a course, steer away from social media and opinion reporting. Rely on mainstream news and clinical professionals like those at the CDC, the WHO and the FDA. These are the people who have protected us from all the scourges of the past such as small pox and malaria and Ebola as well as the smaller scourges like chicken pox and mumps and rubella. Maintain your cool and practice patience, because … well, not everyone else will.
I recommend these three guidelines to maintain your calm from moment to moment and from normal to normal:
- Develop your own custom, self-care protocol: Include regular exercise. This should be 30-45 minutes a day walking or running, training on a machine or practicing agility through yoga or even dance. Get out into nature. It has been a long winter for those in the northern states, so get out into the green, even if it is raining. Be calm. Take time to read, listen to music you enjoy. Practice meditation. Be sociable. We have spent a lot of time on ZOOM or in isolation, so it is important to get back into social shape just as you would with getting into physical shape. Be safe in your selections of social venues, however – see 2 and 3 below.
- Vaxxer protocol for gatherings: According to the CDC, vaccination does afford greater freedom, but only among others who have been vaccinated. The CDC goes so far as to say that you would be likely low risk inviting other vaccinated people into your home for dinner. They never say NO risk, but the chance of transmission of the virus is greatly diminished among vaccinated people.
- Anti-Vaxxer protocol: This is back to pandemic normal in that the unvaccinated people can still contract the disease from a vaccinated person who may be asymptomatic. Especially if the unvaccinated individuals are high risk owing to a pre-existing condition, these gatherings are not safe. The discussions with anti-vaxxers should start by asking why they are opposed to this vaccine, and this article in WebMD offers some important facts to help.
Charlotte Bishop is a Caregiver Coach, an Aging Life Care Advisor, a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.