Exhibiting Resilience

Most older people handle things better than the younger generations.

While that’s a broad generalization, no apology for saying it will be forthcoming. And no poison emails, please, about your ability to cope better depending on many factors, including the particular situation and the tools available to cope. No one disagrees.

We have special capabilities.

The point is:  elders are often seen as slow and inflexible, not able to shift and go with the flow, especially true of new ways of thinking and doing. This is the idea that chaps my hide.

Take the recent pandemic. There has been nothing so huge and so devastating, so dangerous and ruinous of every part of our lives that we have experienced. Part of our ability to cope better than most young people is our lifetime of experiences and mindset to back us up psychologically. While older people have been more vulnerable to COVID-19, our life skills tell us it’s possible to survive. We’ve been the largest group to listen to scientists and medical advisors and to heed their warnings and take the precautions they suggest seriously.

A week after Thanksgiving, the positive COVID tests in my community tripled. Of that number, nearly 50% testing positive for the virus were between 18 and 45 years of age. During the same time period, only 19% were 55 years and older.

Agreed; not having a family to support and huge bills to pay enhances our detachment and an increased laissez-faire attitude. And I concur that, without these constraints, we are able to shift and alter our behavior easier and quicker than, say, a 40-year-old trying to work from home and get her children home-schooled at the same time.

We cope better with being alone.

As elders we are less dependent on the need for in-person interactions and can survive and even thrive in spite of social distancing requirements. Without complaint, seniors have revised or cancelled their plans, especially difficult during the holidays, in order to stay safe and to keep others safe. We’re the first to limit grocery store visits, cancel or postpone non-emergency doctor’s appointments and move weekly or daily coffee fellowship gatherings to Zoom or FaceTime. For us there’s an excitement in making these changes. We’re doing the good thing, the right thing, for our vulnerable communities.

No argument that everyone misses family members who don’t live with them. So many grandparents miss the sweet tug of tiny hands on their wrinkly faces pulling them into the world of a small child who only wants your attention. I get choked up when I can’t hug you in kindness. I miss your smell and the feel of your arms around me.

And, in the future?

Going forward when you’re doing the best you can for yourself and others and while you continue developing new resources of comfort and joy until the time when we can be together again, give yourself a pat on the back for sturdy resilience. Don’t forget to check in on your friends who may be struggling and continue to encourage younger people who think they must bear the entire burden of a difficult time.

With resilience we’ll get through this, both the younger generations and hopefully the vast majority of elders in our world.