Dashed plans due to COVID cause stress and anxiety

My husband keeps asking me why I cry at the drop of a hat lately.

I have always been prone to tears when really stressed or when something touches my heart. And I guess that is exactly why I’m crying these days.

For the past three months, my staff and I at Senior Concerns have been preparing for the grand reopening of our Adult Day program on Sept. 1.

With safety as our first priority, we installed a new HVAC system, complete with air purifiers that clean the air at the molecular level. We replaced our 18-yearold pergola to provide shade, and purchased new outdoor furniture to allow for outside activities.

A team of teenage volunteers helped to wash windows.

Other volunteers pitched in to pack up the emergency food pantry we operated for the past year and donated the remaining goods to the Manna food bank to make way for our participants’ return.

We reenrolled clients. We began hiring staff. Each day was filled with activity and with anticipation for our reopening.

Then one day we learned one of our fully vaccinated participants was diagnosed with COVID and was very, very sick. And then another.

We obviously were concerned. Was it wise to reopen our program during the Delta variant surge? We reached out to our friends in the medical community— emergency room physicians and hospital nurses—and asked for their guidance about reopening at this time.

All recommended against it.

After 17 months of the closure of a program that provides such special care to those with cognitive impairment and vital respite to their family caregivers, our hopes were broken and so were our hearts.

Of course, I can grieve this setback, and it is reasonable that I am sad, but that sadness or grief breaks through in other ways.

For example, I was talking to my husband about a TV segment I saw recently featuring Jordan Windle, the American Olympic diver who was a Cambodian orphan adopted by a single American man. Together they wrote a book, “An Orphan No More.” As I was talking, I started to cry.

I even cried at the end of an episode of “Love Boat” last week. Now that’s just silly.

Times like these can be an emotional roller coaster.

I have been anticipating visiting my mother later this month, thinking that things would certainly be better by now. I still expect to go forward with my plans, but now there is a level of stress and anxiety, or at least frustration, that I’m less able than I would like to manage my environment.

I’m blessed with a great supportive confidant in my teammate Martha, a licensed clinical social worker who allows me to express my feelings without judgment. That really helps.

I wonder if all the bad behaviors on airplanes or emotional outbursts on social media are resulting from the unrecognized stress, anxiety or frustration we are feeling.

I’m trying to take notice of and accept my emotions without trying to change them, even if it does make my husband uncomfortable.

This is an emotional time, and it’s OK to feel upset, scared or frustrated.

Anyone who feels they need help handling their emotions can call Ventura County Behavioral Health at (866) 998-2243.

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Categories: Elder HealthNumber of views: 720

Tags: emotional health during COVID

Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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