Pandemic bring hierarchy of needs into focus

Pandemic bring hierarchy of needs into focus

I think some of us are surprised by what has become most important to us as a society over these past four months.

Take, for example, the most basic of our needs, something as simple as air and food.

Pre-pandemic we may have been worried about air quality if it was allergy season, but now being able to breathe virus-free air is of top priority.

Before COVID most of us may have considered grocery shopping a bit of a chore. However, now that it is elevated to an “essential activity” and permits us to leave our homes, we are eager to go to the supermarket.

In the early days of the coronavirus, shopping was like a scavenger hunt. Will today be the day I find yeast, flour or rice? Who knew how much we’d valued those items that we previously took for granted?

Comfort at arms length

Comfort at arms length

You are sitting in your favorite spot in your home—what do you have within arm’s reach?

I recently polled my workmates and received a host of answers, including a computer or iPad, tissues, reading material, Sudoku or crossword puzzles, a pen, a notepad, the television remote, a beverage and, of course, a cellphone.

As human beings, we like our frequently used stuff nearby, where we can’t lose track of it. It makes our lives easier, more enjoyable, more hassle-free and much more comfortable. And because of this, designers have for centuries created new ways to give us a resting place for that stuff.

Take, for example, the nightstand or bedside table, 

The front porch, a rediscovered—and needed—social space

The front porch, a rediscovered—and needed—social space

My husband and I used to chuckle when my mother-in-law lived with us. She would set up shop inside our open garage with her cup of tea, our dog on a leash, her lawn chair, her Table-Mate tray table and a set of magazines.

It did not matter that our backyard held lovely views of the Conejo Valley; the view she wanted to see was people.

While sitting in the garage over the course of the day, she would see the mail carrier, delivery people, neighbors walking their dogs, Realtors dropping off flyers and the people next door walking to their car.

She would shout out a “Hey, mister!” or “Hey, lady!” and launch right into a conversation with anyone who walked by. I am sure the interaction reminded her of her hometown in Ireland, where neighbors were close and conversation was plentiful. And the exchange fed her soul.

Celebrating life in isolation

Celebrating life in isolation

Birthdays during the pandemic have certainly changed.

Take, for example, a first birthday, when a child’s parents reflect on how quickly the year has gone. One-year-olds have achieved so much in their first year. They have developed their own personality and can really enjoy the excitement of a party just for them.

My great-nephew, Wyatt, turned 1 this past week.

His parents, grandparents and great-grandmother held a socially distanced outdoor party for him. Neighbors and friends drove up, stayed in their cars to drop off gifts and send well-wishes, and were treated to a to-go lunch including a hot dog, bag of chips, soda and birthday cake.

Wyatt will never know his birthday celebration was different than it might have been pre-pandemic. But most of us know that this year’s birthday will likely be different from those in the past.

Last week was also my friend Adrienne’s 77th birthday. 

Accurate census count is critical

Accurate census count is critical

Yes, this will be my second column on the upcoming census in as many months, but hopefully you’ll forgive me. After all, there’s a lot at stake here. What happens in 2020 will determine the fate of our region’s communities for the next 10 years.

Did you know that, according to the U.S. government, Ventura County is in the top 2% of counties “at risk” for undercounting in the upcoming 2020 census?

Why would Ventura County be any different than other counties? It seems, according to the federal government, that we have an overabundance of factors that will challenge census takers. Among them: potentially hundreds of individuals (if not more) who may be in the country illegally and who are fearful of being asked if they are a citizen (they won’t be).

Seniors: Start planning for new year now

Seniors: Start planning for new year now

What will 2020 look like for you? That answer is likely to be different for everyone, but there are a few things most older adults will have in common. 

For example, if Social Security is your primary source of income, you may want to think about tightening your belt a little. In 2020, seniors will be getting a 1.6% increase in benefits, which pales in comparison to the 2.8% cost-of-living adjustment they received going into 2019.

Additionally, the standard monthly Medicare Part B premium is increasing from $135.50 in 2019 to $144.60 in 2020.

Belt tightening can include getting a part-time job, taking in a roommate and reducing expenses.

One of the major areas of expense for older adults are healthcare costs. By this time of year, seniors have selected their Medicare

It makes sense that seniors need to be counted in 2020 Census

It makes sense that seniors need to be counted in 2020 Census

 I recently attended a presentation by a partnership specialist for the Los Angeles Regional Census Center. She met with a group of nonprofits to explain details of the upcoming 2020 Census and to express the importance of each household completing the census.

According to AARP, older Americans have been more likely than other age groups to return their U.S. Census forms and make sure they were counted.

That is the good news, because there has never been a census in history that is more important to seniors than this upcoming one—because the senior population is growing at such a rapid pace and needs to be counted.

Are America’s seniors facing an ‘aloneness’ epidemic?

Are America’s seniors facing an ‘aloneness’ epidemic?

Recently, my coworkers and I have begun to see a spike in the number of seniors in our community who go days on end without human contact. Yet when asked if they’re lonely, they say no.

These individuals are quite content with their daily schedule. In many cases, they’re proud of their independence—even if it means a lack of socialization and the absence of trusted resources.

This journey into aloneness can be likened to the tale of the boiling frog.

As the fable goes, if a frog is suddenly put into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water, which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

A not-so-pretty analogy but one that bears truth for some seniors who, over time, have isolated themselves.

More and more older adults picking up pickleball

More and more older adults picking up pickleball

I’ve never been a sports-oriented person. I’m not sure if it’s the required physical exertion or the competitive aspect that doesn’t excite me, but I’d much rather spend my days pursuing a host of other activities.

So when my husband announced he wanted us to join a club and play pickleball, I was less than enthused.

Sure, I’d heard that pickleball was one of the fastest-growing sports in America and was being played by lots of older adults, but I really knew nothing about the details.

Pickleball is a paddle sport that requires two to four players using a solid paddle, hitting a Wiffle-type ball over a low net. Players use an underarm stroke to serve the ball and play it on a court that’s about one-quarter the size of a tennis court, so there’s less physical exertion.

The game was invented 50 years ago as a way for three dads to keep their kids occupied. The fathers creatively used materials they had around the house and yard to fashion the paddles, ball, net and court, and then made up the rules.

No gifts this birthday, plan memories instead

No gifts this birthday, plan memories instead

I recently visited New Hampshire to join my mother in celebrating her 85th birthday.

While planning the visit, I asked my mother if she would like to go on a short trip with me—maybe a visit to Cape Cod or to Maine?

My mother has temporarily lost her “partner in crime” for outings. My sister is in “grandma mode,” babysitting her 4-monthold grandson four days a week.

On the girlfriend front, my mother was never much of a socializer. She preferred to spend time with her family and work at her job, and then in retirement tend to her husband’s needs. Having a gal pal was really not her thing.

My mother always displayed a true New England work ethic. When I was a child, if a neighbor called to gossip or chat, my mother 


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