Senior News Line
by Matilda Charles
We can’t turn on the news now without hearing about the new virus that’s sweeping the world. Coronavirus, now called COVID-19, is a serious virus that came out of China. At this point the virus has spread to more than 30 countries and there have been over 2,800 deaths.
Protecting ourselves from COVID-19 is much like how we avoid the seasonal winter flu that’s now in high numbers in every state. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is mostly common sense, but every step is important:
* Wash your hands frequently. Use warm water and soap and wash for a minimum of 20 seconds. Try singing “Happy Birthday” to mark the time.
* Keep your hands away from your face, even if you’ve just washed your hands.
* Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw away the tissue.
* Disinfect surfaces in your environment frequently, such as countertops and doorknobs.
* When you go out, take a pack of antiseptic wipes to wet down grocery cart handles. If you don’t have those, put hand sanitizer on your palms and wet the cart handle.
* Never share cups or plates or anything else with those who are sick.
* If you have to be out in public, keep your distance. Stay at least 6 feet away from others. For now, avoid shaking hands.
* If you feel sick, don’t rush to the doctor. Call first and explain your symptoms. If they want you to come in, there might be a special entrance for you to use to keep from spreading germs to others.
Stay healthy this winter. Get enough sleep, eat well and keep your stress down. All of those affect your immune system. And if you haven’t had a flu shot, get one now.
What Makes Us Happy?
What makes us happy as we get older? Below are the results of an informal poll of seniors at the local coffee shop.
* Having enough income. It turns out that many who are living only on Social Security can have enough to make it through the month if they made wise decisions before retiring. Paying off the mortgage is a big one.
* Being listened to, or at least not being disregarded. There’s something about aging that seems to make us melt into the background, and if we have opinions or comments, people don’t always listen. Medical staff seem to rank very high on this list of people who really aren’t listening. Being heard is important.
* Freedom. This comes in many forms. It might mean continuing to drive; it might mean watching only what we want on television.
* Having a social life. For some of us that might mean being part of a group that meets regularly. For others it might mean talking to friends on the phone daily.
* Laughing. Finding something amusing every day ranked high on the list of what makes us happy. Sometimes it was reading the next page of a joke-a-day calendar. Sometimes it was talking to a friend who had a great, skewed view of the world.
* Having a reason to get up every day. Whether it’s a hobby, a good book or a social gathering, having a reason to look forward to the next day was key.
And what does it mean if we’re happy? A study monitored 3,000 seniors over the course of eight years to see how happiness impacted physical function. Researchers found that happy people decline more slowly. Conversely, unhappy people were three times more likely to develop health problems.
Where do you fall on the happiness spectrum?