When I think about the best of Owensboro-Daviess County, I think of all those who have come together to ensure that our most fragile are cared for. Without hesitation, restaurants began giving away, and even delivering food for seniors and our children – no questions asked. Groups of all ages, affiliations, and missions have come together to ensure people are fed and that they are safe. We are seeing the best in this community, and we are stronger for it.
What is it within us that sacrifices comfort, financial resources, and our own will, to help others? It’s seeing the gratification in the faces of those we serve, and feeling like we’re gaining more of a gift than we’ve given. There have been studies that have shown those who regularly donate their time and resources, and who routinely perform acts of kindness, tend to behave more heroically during a crisis. Funny, though, those who behave heroically, don’t see themselves that way. But I think they are!
Every business that sacrificed their own profits to ensure the safety of others … heroes! Every healthcare worker, regardless of their role within the system … heroes! Every delivery person… heroes! Every worker who entered homes and businesses to keep things running … heroes! Every single individual who stepped up to volunteer, to donate, to organize, to encourage, to pray … heroes!
I feel safe in saying we’re all overwhelmed with how quickly our worlds have changed. The ease with which we went about our days now requires deliberate thought. For those at greatest risk, it’s still a warzone, and we must keep clearing the path for their reentry.
You’ve shown your compassion for our community’s most vulnerable. You have one more role to play. Here’s how you can help:
-If you spend time with a senior, avoid anyone at risk if you even suspect you could be carrying any type of illness. This doesn’t mean to stay away only if you feel poorly. Avoid contact if you have been around someone who was ill with a contagion, or if you yourself have anything that could be transmitted. This shows your senior your commitment.
-Reassure them that seeking medical treatment is safe. If you have been to the doctor during this reentry, share with your senior the process. Explain in detail the precautions your healthcare provider took to ensure your safety. Many seniors have been reluctant to attend to their healthcare needs during this time. It is critical as a community that we dispel those fears. As a senior, feel free to call your healthcare provider and ask them what their process will be, and how they will ensure your safety. They would much rather take your phone call of questions than meet you in the emergency room for that could have been prevented!
-Although strongly suggested, you may be comfortable not wearing a mask, but realize your senior may prefer you wear one. Ask them, and then accommodate accordingly.
–You may wish to hug, or shake hands after the social distancing has been relaxed. Ask your senior before reaching out. For many of us, it feels impolite to deny a hug or handshake, and some may oblige to keep from offending you but be fearful later.
-Let them see you use hand sanitizer or washing your hands. For example, if you are assisting them in sorting medications, ensure your hands are sanitized as well as the surface. If you’re taking them to the grocery or other places, ensure the carts are clean and sanitized. Carry wipes with you, and if you have doubt that a surface is safe, wipe it down for them and for yourself.
–When you transport someone at risk, ensure your vehicle is wiped down prior to their entry. They will appreciate your forethought, I assure you!
–Stay in touch! Thank goodness for the telephone! Just a quick phone call to see if they need anything, or a check in to ensure they’re okay.
–Ask if they have any business to take care of. Problem-solve ways that business can be accomplished safely and offer to assist. For example, some may have need to go to the Social Security office, or to apply for benefits and have let those lapse due to the complications. Help them navigate those safely.
–If you see a need that isn’t being met, you can call your local senior center on your senior’s behalf for a list of additional resources.
–Lastly, although your senior may not appear fragile, know that their needs are different than mine and yours. However, as much as you want to keep them safe, love them enough to allow them to make their own decisions. Our jobs as caregivers are to educate, encourage, and enable them to remain healthy and safe.
This community has made my heart swell. I’ve broken down and cried when a donor met a need at just the right time, or when a volunteer showed up to deliver meals just because they had a hunch we may be running short. You’ve shown your best to our seniors. You’ve done so because you know their investment throughout the years is what has made this community great. Now that the sleeping giants of compassion have been awakened, show us your resolve.