Columns

Richard’s Almanac: Staying in contact and coping

I arrived back on the Island last week and noticed a very different feeling than when I left almost a month before. Everyone seems to be more serious and cautious — justifiably so. How are we going to come out of this health crisis? What’s ahead for us in the next month?

These questions are on everyone’s mind.

How are we as seniors — reportedly in the most vulnerable group for contracting the coronavirus — supposed to go on with our lives? A substantial number of Island residents are senior citizens. Some say it’s over 50 percent. And many of us live alone and do not get very much social contact.

What we do get and rely upon is the interaction with others at places like the Post Offices, the Recycling Center, the coffee counters, the Library, the Senior Center and the supermarket.

When these opportunities are stripped away to preserve our health, some real loneliness can set in that can have deleterious effects on our overall well being.

Even though my daughter, who lives nearby, has gone shopping for me, I’ve ventured out for necessities at the pharmacy and the hardware store.

Senior Center Director Laurie Fanelli told me she’s particularly concerned about those living alone at this time and sent me some information worth passing on.

The first step is not to let the new isolation and attendant loneliness consume you. I try to maintain a positive attitude, but must admit it’s difficult to do after reading the daily papers and watching the news. And I know we need to be informed, but it would not hurt to throw out a few positive nuggets.

As we look for things to do in isolation, don’t forget to use the phone as much as you can. Call old friends to see what they’re doing to cope. Call your children and grandchildren and share isolation stories. Speak with the kids about their at-home schoolwork. And if you are computer literate, there is a world of information and contacts available to you.

See if there are projects you can complete around the house, like those small paint jobs, or that floor that needs to be waxed, or the windows that need to be washed, or the workshop that needs to be organized … the list goes on.

I was presented with a project soon after I arrived back home. While walking barefoot through the downstairs hallway I felt wet carpet. The ceiling was wet above it and an upstairs bath was above that. Upon inspection, I noticed the shower stem pipe was leaking inside the wall.

I found a small pipe wrench and started to twist off the bad pipe. It was so corroded that it broke inside the threaded supply pipe. It’s a dilemma that I dealt with some 20 years ago and acquired a special tool at the hardware store.

Could I find that tool? I searched and lo and behold there it was in the garage with other plumbing tools. So I was successful in extracting the broken pipe and headed to the hardware store for another chrome-plated shower pipe. This all worked out well and kept me busy for a full day. No getting bored here.

So don’t get depressed because of all the stressors around. Keep up those behaviors that are beneficial to your health. Go for those walks. They have not closed our beaches or our trails. Enjoy the Island’s beauty.

I have not read this anywhere, but I’ve noticed that I seem to be cooking and eating more. It’s something to do. I guess that it’s comforting, but eating too much is not healthy so be careful. I made a small roast beef the other night and have plenty left over so I’m eating lots of cold roast beef sandwiches.

And keep making those phone calls. You can even call the Senior Center (631-749-1059) during business hours for updates and conversation.