Clearwater seniors cope with COVID-19

Local senior Turid Milton has been resilient during the social isolation that came with COVID-19 precautions and has been enjoying the new freedoms resulting from the loosening of restirctions, though she said she wonders if things will ever go back to the old normal. Photo by Jaime Polmateer
Sandra Holmes, a senior herself, found taking care of her elderly mother during the COVID-19 pandemic stressful and exhausting, but said she’s still thankful to be a part of her mother’s care plan. File photo

Social distancing and isolation due to COVID-19 precautions have had many people going stir crazy, and no demographic is likely feeling the cabin fever more than seniors.

Clearwater resident, Turid Milton, said though she’s always been comfortable alone, having isolation forced upon her has felt at times like being in prison.

“The first two weeks were probably the most uncomfortable. A little bit scary and a little bit incredible and unreal,” said Turid.

“I dare say, I had a little bit of a meltdown when I started thinking I’m 80, and I started thinking about my children and maybe I would die before I could see them and hug them again. That was pretty tough.”

Things for Turid eased up a bit when B.C. went into phase two of COVID-19 precautions and she was able to see her children on Mother’s Day.

She didn’t even know her daughter was coming to see her when she travelled from Grande Prairie, Alberta, and somewhat ironically made Mother’s Day 2020 the best one she’s ever had.

“We had a real good hug and a good couple days together; that made everything different. My son works away and is in complete isolation for weeks at a time so I knew he was pretty safe and my daughter as well, so I had no hesitation in being close to them,” Turid said.

“Since then it’s been different. I feel much more comfortable, at ease and at peace.”

Turid has passed the time in isolation by engaging in her many hobbies like knitting and finishing a project on her loom, though she said she misses being close to other people, going to events, and participating in community activities.

Since restrictions have loosened she’s been able to go on a few picnics with friends, though always making sure to maintain the six feet of distance while socializing, and while this is a welcome change, it’s not exactly the same as things used to be before the pandemic.

“Knowing you can’t go visit a friend and give each other a big hug — it’s the feelings about that makes the difference in my life,” she said.

“You wonder if anything is ever going to be like it used to be. It’s a big question if it can ever go back to the old normal and I guess we might have to get used to a different way of life, but I don’t know. Maybe (the virus) will go away and we can continue as it was before. Who knows?”

Two seniors’ experiences during the pandemic

By Sandra Holmes

Just before the lockdown started in March, my 92-year-old mother who lives in an assisted living residence in Kamloops took two serious falls. It was necessary for her safety for someone to spend the nights with her.

The first week my siblings and I took turns. The next week we were asked to choose a designated visitor as the threat of the virus was becoming real. That job fell to me. The stress of screening at the front door, masking up, sanitizing, and making sure I did not touch any surfaces or interact with anyone other than my mother was exhausting.

Thankfully my mother’s health continued to improve. Then came the daily changes in the rules. Trying to explain to a confused older mother with hearing impairment and some dementia why she couldn’t have dinner with the one friend she saw on a daily basis and why she couldn’t leave her room was heart-breaking.

For me, also a senior, the drive to Kamloops topped off with the stress of staying “safe” in the face of the terrible stories coming out of other care homes took its toll on me. I became frightened and anxious as sleep became more difficult.

Experiencing the disconnection from normal routines and deep sense of loss of freedom combined with the concerns for my own children and grandchildren sent me to search for support. I found that in the frequent conversations with others and in the concentrated efforts to learn the true facts and distance myself from the horror stories that weren’t my experience.

With compassion and care, I have been thankful that I am part of my mother’s care plan.

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