The ingredients needed to make this column appetizing are part education, part inspiration, and part amusement. Isaac Newton would be pleased with this apple pie.
What are you doing to pass the days after seven weeks of self-isolating? I took a walk along the St. Vrain River a couple of weeks ago, and sat in the sun, but no one else was wearing a face mask, so I gave that up. My friend Linda Medley said she and a friend took a car ride on CO Highway 7. She exclaimed that “the snow on Long’s Peak and Meeker was very beautiful against the blue sky.” I told her she was “gangster” for going more than ten miles from home.
At home, I started pulling out baking ingredients that I had saved to make something on a rainy day. Novella Gaia said that her new favorite breakfast is black beans with scallions, diced tomato, and cilantro and a few hash browns. I asked another friend what she was cooking.
“I have found that I still remember how to cook some old family recipes,” said Carol Groves. “I found out that the family would rather do the cooking. Guess they aren’t into Depression fare.”
Virus news for seniors
Colorado’s Stay-at-Home order is largely rescinded and is now Safer-at-Home. I am sure that you are getting daily updates in the news as to what is opening and under what safety restrictions. I will only be writing here about things that pertain to seniors. Even Colorado Governor Jared Polis had to further explain this past week what he meant when he said “nursing homes” needed to take extra precautions to protect residents. It would include assisted living residences, senior living facilities, and emergency care centers. In addition to orders on March 12, which restricted visitations and required staff to get checked for symptoms before their shifts, he now ordered nursing homes to provide written plans to the state on their procedures to protect residents.
You may ask why there is so much emphasis on seniors in Colorado. I studied both federal and local government statistics, and they were overwhelmingly bad for seniors. In March, the federal government reported that people 65 and older were responsible for 80% of deaths. Further, Colorado ranked among the states with the highest percentage of COVID-19 deaths occurring in nursing homes. Colorado is at 73 percent, while the national average is 23 percent. Of course, these statistics change daily, and the number of cases in facilities is going down.
A week ago, Governor Polis sent the Colorado National Guard to test people at senior group living facilities. Testing emphasized workers, as they often work at multiple facilities. After giving 900 tests at the three biggest facilities, they found 20 positive cases. The effort will be ongoing, and the Guard will return to the facilities to re-test.
While you will hear of restrictions being lifted slowly across the state, Governor Polis recommends that seniors and those most vulnerable keep to the same rules in May that they followed in April. This means only going out for essential services, wearing a face mask, and social distancing of a minimum of six feet. Both the slowing of case numbers and the data collected suggest that the rules are working.
Data suggest up to one in four people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic and do not know they are spreading infected respiratory droplets, so always wear a mask, and sanitize your groceries and packages. (See my article on how to make or obtain a face mask.)
Through May 31, the Cities of Boulder and Longmont have canceled events and closed facilities. Boulder County’s buildings, with few exceptions, will remain closed till June 1. This means that the Walt Self Senior Center will remain closed until at least June 1. The Town of Lyons offices are closed to the public. Libraries are also closed. Some are accepting media returns, but there will be no penalty if you wait till they are open again to return items.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced six new possible symptoms of the virus: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and a loss of taste. The CDC previously listed fever, cough, and shortness of breath as symptoms. They have tweaked the latter to “shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.” COVID-19 patients can experience a variety of symptoms that generally appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Studies have shown that patients may be at their most infectious in the days before they begin showing symptoms. The CDC further said that people should seek medical attention immediately for trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, bluish lips or face, and the newly added “confusion or inability to arouse.”
Don’t let your fear block your capacity to reason. I have had intelligent seniors ask me about some useless gimmicks or ideas like taking your temperature hourly, a device to test your lungs’ oxygen capacity, sitting under a UV light, gargling with disinfectant, or drinking tons of hot tea. As a senior, you have gathered decades of common sense and can tell how a cold feels versus your annual allergies, or how your forehead feels when you have a fever, or if your aches and pains are from sleeping in a wrong position in bed. The most consistent information from previous serious COVID-19 patients’ statements is that it feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest, and that you can’t catch your breath.
That all said, I am not giving medical advice, and refer you to your doctor for that. Trust only CDC information or your doctor, not ads or Facebook. I have seen bad advice, or at least stretching the truth, from local and national doctors advertising products.
I have given you in past columns detailed descriptions and links to free online services offered by the Front Range libraries, which included e-books, music, films, travel tours, and more. They also offer free tech help over the phone or online. I suggest you continue to go back to library web pages to see what their new offerings are.
The Lyons Regional Library had their first virtual bi-monthly book club in April, and it went so well, they decided to upgrade them to monthly. The next one is May 20 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss “My Antonia.” Get the e-book. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the Zoom passcode.
The Longmont Library has a daily BINGO game. You simply print a Boredom BINGO card off their web page and complete the fun and educational activities in one row in any direction. All cards will be entered into a contest when the library reopens.
As of now, there are no changes in May for LEAF services, including the Food Pantry and the Boulder County Area Agency on Aging (BCAAA) bi-weekly lunches. See my past columns for more on these continuing programs, and join the Lyons Longevity group on Facebook, as I post the latest information there daily. Also, get on the LovingLyonsSeniorGroup@gmail.com email list so that you will get timely information on the return of meals and programs.