The world seems a very different place since we last spoke. That it was only a month ago is remarkable.
Progression of Covid-19 - from an outbreak in Wuhan, China, to governments around the world enforcing country-wide lockdowns is staggering.
Businesses are pivoting to produce essential products like hand sanitiser, ventilators and protective wear for health workers, while the UN enlists creatives to prepare countries not yet overrun by the disease.
With so many daily updates from around the world, we wanted to focus this month's news review on stories trying to understand this new normal.
Early on, Covid-19 was described as a threat ‘only’ to older adults. As if a virus that only impacted those over 65 wasn't something to worry about.
Our first article, by Dr Louise Aronson from the University of California, focuses on just this, asking 'why are we OK with older people dying?'
We wouldn't be so relaxed if young people were dying in the same numbers, and the argument that older people have had their time ("colossally insensitive", to quote Louise), is also colossally inaccurate. We simply don't age in the same way today.
Louise writes: “When we look at people as nothing more than amalgams of age and diagnosis, we miss their humanity. We can choose to either diminish our elders or support them. When we care for them, we not only are affecting the lives of people now but also are shaping our own futures”.
What is happening now affects us all, directly, or indirectly. And it is through our sense of community and fairness that as many of us can cope, and hopefully survive.
Be great indoors
Coping is the theme of our next article, from veteran broadcaster Joan Bakewell.
In the brief, yet thoughtful piece for the Guardian, Joan explores the sad fact that as an older adult, the freedom to explore and meet with friends is one of the clear upsides of ageing.
Knowing this, she says, it falls on younger people to remind their elders to protect themselves by staying indoors and promoting how to avoid feeling isolated.
The many free video chat platforms now available (Skype, Facetime etc.) are an obvious avenue.
But, as Joan writes, questions remain. “What about dental appointments, hairdressers, podiatrists?
How will we manage to exercise if we are asked to stay indoors? I shall certainly be venturing out for a walk, alone and at a distance from others. I need a daily gulp of fresh air”.
So, it raises another question: “how will the Government’s ‘ask’ for over-70s to stay indoors be policed?" Because once the novelty of living in a lockdown has passed, the everyday freedoms we all took for granted will begin to nag away at us.
A word from the WEF
We turn to the World Economic Forum for some answers to managing life in a pandemic in this piece by Dr Erwin Tam, Director, Health Thought Leadership, AARP.
The advice itself may sound familiar now as hand sanitation, self-isolation and social distancing are widely cited as the best way to minimise the spread of the virus. But he raises an issue that doesn't get a lot of coverage in the UK - families living in multi-generational households.
Says Dr Tan; “Families can institute changes now by not sharing personal items like food, water bottles and utensils. If possible, choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy. If possible, also choose a bathroom for the sick person to use”.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out around the world, in countries where more families live together. The closeness of Italian families was cited as one reason they have been so badly affected.
And it proves that when we come through the other side of this - whenever that may be - every state must take a serious look at how services are prioritised at a time like this.
Because if anyone saw the recent image of Anthony Glynn, 79, trying to shop for his older neighbours in a store stripped bare by panic-buyers, they know we must be different when the next pandemic arrives.
In other news
Amongst the many sad stories we saw this month, there were some to raise the spirits.
We begin with this piece from the BBC who interviewed three older women (via video link of course) after they decided to go through their self-isolation together.
Friends for 50 years, they admit they're lucky to have the choice of moving between each of their homes to keep things fresh. Or if they get 'tetchy' with each other. They did admit to panic-buying some essentials, however. White wine.
Next, we saw this post from Age UK who wanted to highlight the number of local Age UK organisations you can donate to that provide frontline services to older people in London. They have also set up an emergency appeal with the goal of raising £10 million to support those who need it most.
And finally, the UN has called upon creatives to think of ways to communicate the vital information around Covid-19 to those countries as yet unaffected. If you have read any of the articles written by house-bound Italians about what to expect, then persuasive messages are essential to slowing the progress of this era-defining contagion.
That’s it for this month, until next month, be sure to follow us on Twitter and more importantly, stay safe and stay indoors.
Image used with permission. Copyright Cathy Yeulet.