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Opinion: When I’m 64, or why coronavirus restrictions matter

Amanda Dickson thinks about people like her father, who had Alzheimer's Disease, in light of the restrictions of coronavirus.

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom. 

I know the restrictions the coronavirus are putting on your life are challenging. It’s frustrating to wait at the grocery store. We criticize each other for buying too much toilet paper. We don’t understand why the schools might close. I hear people asking, “Is it all really necessary?”

While the focus of this column is not to answer that question, let me say that I believe it is. I have complete faith in minds immeasurably superior to mine on matters of public health.

Today I am thinking about the people over 60, and more specifically, the older folks in their 80’s and 90’s living in care centers.

What coronavirus restrictions mean for those over 60

Governor Herbert limited the gathering of people in Utah to 100 for the next two weeks, but if you are older than 60, then you should limit the groups you meet in to 20.

Do you know what that means for some of our senior citizens? My friend Shantel McBride works with seniors in a variety of capacities. She takes them to bingo night. She takes them on trips to Wendover. She takes them bowling and to the movies and on other “happy outings,” as she calls them. All of those things are marked with stars and smiley faces on their calendars and looked forward to for days, and all of those outings are cancelled.

More heart-wrenching than that. For the senior citizens who live in care centers, the family and friends who have been visiting them, some daily, cannot come now. Fred Kraut from Rocky Mountain Care told me the guidelines at their skilled nursing facilities are very strict right now, as they must be. No visitors, including family members, are allowed inside the care centers. Some of these seniors received hugs and kisses goodnight from their daughters every night since the day they moved in. Imagine the sense of loss and loneliness they must feel to not have that physical touch.

Thank God for technology and the angels who work at places like Rocky Mountain, who spend a great deal of time talking with the residents and family, facilitating calls on Skype and FaceTime so family can see each other, but there is nothing like a hug, nothing like sitting next to someone’s bedside.

A personal connection

I have tears in my eyes as I write these words because I remember my father’s last years. My father had Alzheimer’s. In the last year of his life, I did the best I could to keep him from watching the news. It scared him even when the topic wasn’t terribly frightening. I cannot imagine how unsettling stories about coronavirus could be for our seniors, particularly those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The fix I chose for my Papa was the Tennis Channel. We couldn’t get enough Roger Federer. The problem now is all the sporting events have been postponed!

Well, there are always movies. Movies and ice cream and the thought of how good the hugs will be when they are finally allowed again.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

State of Utah:  https://coronavirus.utah.gov/

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States