During the Covid-19 period, we, like others, have had far fewer physical social connections than ever before. Beginning here March 2020 and lasting through the rest of the year, My Love and I have been our own bubble of two and see few other people regularly.
In response to the virus, and the isolation it demanded of us so we would not become part of any chain that might spread the disease, our social life took a dramatic turn, to the point we are grateful for the few people who will be remembered as our ‘social life’ as they crossed our path.
No more exercise classes or art classes with our Alzheimer Society friends. No casual lunches with former associates. No dances, nor walks along the lake or in the park. It has not been just My Love’s Alzheimer’s disease that has slowed us down or reduced our socialization. COVID took the world by surprise and social lives changed.
The nurse who administered our flu shots had a few moments of chit chat while getting her needle primed. She and the receptionist who said, “hello” and smiled as she received my new book for the doctor were our ‘other human’ connections that day.
The man who counted customers going in and out of the grocery store always said, “hello.” The lady, who delivered groceries to our car when we picked them up, always chatted while she quickly took the filled bags from her cart to put in the back seat of our car. Store clerks, enclosed in Plexiglas cages, while filling bags for me, found time for a kind comment, which became more important than ever before.
The serviceman who put air in my tires during the ‘tween’ seasons, when they seemed to lose air, always waved me onto the track beside the oil-change pit, looked me in the eye when he asked my name and said, “thank you” when we left.
Last week, after only 200 km use between May and November, I had my tires switched from summer to winter at Toyota. The man who has long been my ‘agent’ at the service desk and I spoke through partition about the condition of the tires and the service needed. The Uber driver who took me home was chatty, but our connection had to be through his rear-view mirror.
Our friendly pharmacist adheres to the red lines, six feet apart, on the ground and so we speak louder to one another through the plexi barrier as she hands me the bagged meds around the end.
Upon occasion we have met friends in a parking lot and have spoken briefly through the car window. I have momentarily met with a friendly salesman in a parking lot for an exchange of a purchased product. I have quickly chatted from across the room to the post lady while she filled the post-boxes. Occasionally, I even chatted in the elevator for a twelve-floor ride with the number-two person allowed on board. Sometimes I happened to cross paths with the building superintendent for a few exchanged greetings when I took the trash down to the dumpster.
Mostly it has been me who has spoken to others. My Love has no idea what the COVID is. He rarely uses a mask. He hates them, although does accept wearing one when we leave the apartment. He gets weekly phone calls from his brother, even though I realize it is the recognition of the voice, not the conversation that is meaningful.
In our home, My Love has had no social interactions and I wondered if not having regular physical socialization, and thus conversations with others, made a difference. I have had enjoyable phone calls, newsy emails, been on teleconferences, and zoom meetings with groups and family, all of which were really important. But the ‘in person’ energy, that vibration of a human being, has been missing. I cannot imagine how My Love must feel with no connections…I do know he still has feelings.
Even though I am not sure I can say COVID has accelerated this loss of words, My Love is no longer a good conversationalist. He sits quietly a lot of the time, watches his photos, looks at books, paints, listens to radio or watches TV, if I am doing other work.
His word recognition has slipped faster than expected during this period. He does not understand my words and finds it hard to find the right words himself to talk to me. I keep remembering his Alzheimer’s is still at play. My Love will not be learning. He is unlearning as fast as his life memories and functional memories evaporate.
I am not sure if the increased acceleration is due to lack of socialization or if it would occur anyway. I doubt we will ever know. But it is difficult for me to keep having conversations with myself, even as I am ‘talking’ with My Love. I talk for myself, and then I carry his side of the conversation as well. It is not all silent self-talk.
All I can say is that this isolation has changed our life, changed our activities, changed our socialization. I wonder what life will be like when the danger of being near others allows us to be in groups again.
I’d love to know if you ‘like’ the stories here and what you like … so we can keep the focus pointed the right direction! 🥰 There is a ‘Like’ button at the bottom of the page! Thank you so much for your encouragement! 🤗hugs, jas
Social Life During COVID © 2020 Judith Allen Shone
The top four pictures are from Pexels.com.
The last photo is the author’s loved one.
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