Navigating Healthy Aging in a Complicated Time
What a year it has been! Can you remember where you were back in January, before vaccines were widely available? If your year has been anything like mine, you may have missed out on family gatherings during the last months of 2020 in order to keep everyone safe. Fast forward a few months, and it seemed like life was rapidly heading back toward something like what it had been before the pandemic. Summer months brought some of us closer together as we met outside for meals and saw our local businesses, senior centers, and meal sites begin to reopen as the state lifted its mask mandate. As the weather cools and cases continue on what has been a steady recent rise, we feel collectively frustrated and burnt out by the persistence of the virus.
The image for this post (see top of page) represents, at least to this writer, a visual for summarizing the way this year felt. We opened our doors back up to friends and family members at some point, and yet there may still be some type of barrier between us as we continue to prioritize community health.
So where does that leave us? We live in a challenging time, and it’s important to acknowledge the challenge and simultaneously look for ways to continue navigating healthy aging, and to continue to stay positive, at least when we can.
Make a Social Connection
Remember the phone calls that came in at the beginning of the pandemic, as people sought out ways to reconnect as daily social life changed? Research shows connections between talking on the phone for only ten minutes, a few times a week and cardiovascular health. If you’re sick of Zoom, that is okay: find a way of communicating that works for you. This could even be good old-fashioned letter writing! Learn more about how helping others can help overcome loneliness and isolation: https://archive.ph/r10xT
If you feel isolated from your community, CVCOA offers several volunteer programs where you can make a difference for others and make social connection. To get involved, contact Sarah Semler, Director of Volunteer Services, at [email protected] or (802) 476-0151.
Think about your creative outlets
Saturday Night Live mocked the trend of taking up new hobbies during the early days of the pandemic through a fake commercial for Ebay.
All joking aside, creative activities stimulate areas of the brain that contribute to healthy aging. Studies show links between creative activities and positive well-being, including positive effects on cognitive (brain) function. National Guild for Community Arts Education offers several resources for learning more about creative aging.
You may not consider yourself an artist, but chances are there’s something you enjoy doing that can serve as this outlet, whether it’s cooking or baking, woodworking, telling stories, working on engines, knitting, or something else!
If you’re looking for a creative outlet, you may be able to receive a Creative Care Kit, a creative aging initiative CVCOA launched with support from the AARP, the Vermont Arts Council, Meals on Wheels, and many local supporters to provide arts activities and community conversations to older adults during the winter months. Learn more by contacting Luke Rackers, Director of Development and Communications at [email protected] or (802) 479-1953.
If art isn’t your thing, you may be interested in joining an exercise class where creative expression meets community. Local senior centers offer in-person, online, and hybrid options. To learn more about exercise class schedules, contact Anne Greshin, RSVP coordinator, at [email protected] or (802) 241-4840.
Connect with Resources
Maybe this year has brought significant changes in your life. We have all experienced changes within our communities, and it’s important to us that you have access to the resources you need. CVCOA’s Helpline can connect you with resources for and information about nutrition and wellness, care coordination, housing, caregiver support, insurance, and more. Call 1-800-642-5119 to speak with someone about your questions.
Need more inspiration? Check out this list of creative ideas for social connection from the Administration for Community Living: Give the Gift of Connection Flyer.