It’s amazing how life can go from normal (however we define that and how different it might be from person-to-person) to upside down in just a few weeks. That’s how it’s been with the COVID-19, or the coronavirus, since late January or so.
Depending on where we live we may have been asked to remain at home and to refrain from normal shopping and entertainment behavior sooner or a little later than others, but all of us have been staying at home over the past several weeks except for trips to the grocery store and for those of us who still have a place to report for work. Of course, many of us are retired, and others of us have been furloughed with the outbreak. So many establishments have been closed, forced to operate on reduced hours, or transitioned into a no-contact situation with the public, meaning that the insides of many establishments have been closed to the public.
In terms of aging in place or feeling comfortable in our homes, this outbreak has caused us to take a hard look at where we are and to re-evaluate our situation. We need to look no further than the shelves at our local grocery store, warehouse club, or discount center. The shelves that normally are fully-stocked and bulging with bottles of water (gallons, liters, and other sizes) are bare – totally empty. The shelves that once contained paper products (paper towels and toilet paper, for instance) are empty as well. Many of the shelves containing cleaning supplies (disinfectants, hand sanitizers, bleach, window cleaners, and sprays of various types) are all picked over and for the most part totally empty as well.
Foodstuffs have taken a hit as well> People are stocking up on non-perishables – pasta, juices, canned goods, peanut butter, nuts, cereals, cookies, sodas, and the like. Produce is a little harder to come by, and the quality is not as good, as getting it from the field to the store is more of a challenge. Meat is becoming more scarce also.
Then we have modified the way that we traditionally shop for the items that we need at various stores. Some of us no longer feel comfortable venturing from our homes into public spaces and when we do we likely wear masks of various colors, sizes, and descriptions. How many of us would have thought that we would be going into public wearing masks – even into banks and stores? We are masking our faces along with everybody else we encounter and not thinking anything about it.
So we are looking at what we have on hand in our pantries at home. Do we have enough staples to sustain ourselves for a few weeks, knowing that the supply chain of getting items to the market may have been interrupted or slowed, and we aren’t as willing to venture into the world to look for such supplies. It’s interesting also that gas is at a low price point in recent history, yet we don’t feel inclined to drive that much.
As we are spending more time at home, we have the opportunity to get to know our indoor surroundings that much better – not just the people and animals that we’re living with but the home itself. The layout, the decor, the space it affords us, and the features now take on a new meaning or significance in that we are essentially connected with them on a full-time basis.
It’s one thing to have a home to return to that we love that gives us sanctuary, knowing that we can leave most days to go to the office, shopping, recreation, or to perform volunteer service, as opposed to remaining inside our homes for an extended period of time. It’s another to remain there around the clock.
Many of us are seeing things that were not apparent to us in the past or not that important. Now we’re having an opportunity to even re-evaluate what we see, the amount of materials that we have collected and stored, the organizational challenges that we have, and the ease with which we move about within our homes. All of these may come into question as we are taking a harder look at them than we have in the past because it has not been that important or obvious to us.
With everything that is going on around us due to the virus, and especially the extended time we are spending at home, even without being retired or limited in our ability to leave home on a regular or at-will basis, it gives us a new insight into what people might be experiencing who are more-or-less homebound and allows us, as Certified Aging In Place Specialists to take this newfound perspective and apply it to our own families and those we are serving.