By Julie Randolph, Care Coordinator
It is common to encounter someone using an assistive device in a public place. It is also common to be confused at that moment by the new Coronavirus etiquette, in all its various forms.
I recently encountered an individual in the essentials aisle of a grocery store. We discussed the options available, a considerable number in comparison to early COVID-19. As she struggled to grab her choice, I offered to reach it and put it into her Amigo basket. She noticed my hand injury, which opened the conversation about health care needs.
She spoke of needing to find a new home care provider because of the excessive cost of her current provider. She also spoke of the inconsistency of the aides sent by the company, and of the lack of interest, dignity, and compassion that some workers have shown as they assist her with bathing and light housekeeping. She stated that she and her husband moved here to be closer to their family. She described the substantial bill she received after spending months in assisted living to recuperate after a fall that resulted in a broken arm last winter.
She was unable to dress, bathe, or toilet on her own so she moved to a facility instead of being home alone as she healed. “That was a thing of the past” that she prays will never occur again.
She said she felt good enough to shop today, and that it is the most stimulating activity she does nowadays. She described the intense pain she experienced yesterday and stated that she could not have made it through the store. She spoke of the loss of her primary care physician to retirement and that her new provider would not continue to prescribe her pain medication.
She cried as we visited in the store, telling me about the excruciating joint pain she lives with daily. She described the one relative left in her life who lives a few hours away. Much of their time together is spent on accomplishing a list of tasks, and little time enjoying each other’s company. We talked about how much we all need meaningful conversations and connections.
After a long conversation, there in the grocery aisle, we thanked each other for the time, and she thanked me for listening, and for “seeing” her. She wished me well in my adventure to heal my hand. I wanted to hug her…but COVID precautions prevented that. She put my business card in her purse and promised to call me for support.
She has become a Care Coordination client, and I am so thankful that our connection has continued as we slowly build a supportive service plan to assist in her independent living. She agreed to share her story to encourage others.
It is going to be a long winter. Let us consider the (sometimes-isolating) COVID-19 etiquette as a challenge to overcome, through creative thinking and caring.
Let us build bridges of safe connection. Call Senior Services if you or someone you know needs help addressing ways to connect and support one another.