Coping advice from nursing home residents

COVID-19 has affected millions of people across the country and around the world. It has vastly changed our lives, with no immediate end in sight. As we face the gloomy prospect of a pandemic winter, I consulted some experts for suggestions on how to handle difficult periods in life — nursing home residents.

In many ways, the pandemic experience echoes that of what new residents go through.

Prior to admission, a life-changing event occurs. In the immediate aftermath, they grapple with vast changes and yearn for a return to how things were. Fairly soon, most realize that rehab isn’t a sprint back to prior lifestyles, but a marathon with the strong possibility that their previous lives are no longer possible. With time — and sometimes psychotherapy — the majority of residents focus on trying to make the most of their current circumstances.

With this process in mind, I asked those with at least seven or eight decades of experience if they had any advice for younger people on how to get through hard times.

Many had ready answers to my question. Others asked me to come back after they’d thought about it for a while. All seemed pleased about being solicited for their thoughts and happy to be able to help younger folks.

Here is what they said:

  • You have to have faith. Without that, you’re sunk.
  • You have no choice — you have to get through it.

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