Former Geriatric Nurse

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00:00:00 - Moving to Kendal: Active volunteer becomes a resident

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: All right, thank you for doing this interview. I would like to start out by having you tell me about how you came to live at Kendal?

Resident: After I retired, I was a geriatric nurse, and I was looking for a place to volunteer just–I didn’t miss my job but I missed being around older folks. And my niece works here at Kendal said, oh! Why don’t you come to Kendal, and this was back in ‘05. And so I started volunteering in the care center here. Way back in ‘05. And when you start something at Kendal, you get sucked into a couple committees and then I was recommended for the board. So I loved Kendal–I really never thought I could afford it. Then one day Terri said, well if you like it so much, why don’t you move in. I said Terri, you know I can’t afford it, and she said you probably could if you get a studio. So I had my finances and I was eligible, so in 2017 I moved in. Probably the best-prepared resident to ever move in cuz I had volunteered for 12 years, I was on the board for 9 years, I knew Kendal from every direction, so…

Caroline: What were some of your favorite aspects of Kendal before Covid hit? As you were a resident.

Resident: My passion was working in the care center. I mean as a nurse that was sort of a natural for me. And so I spent a lot of time there. But just the whole atmosphere here. People are very friendly. You know nobody imposes–you do your own thing and you can be as active or inactive as you want. And I’m not a music person but I do go to some of the music things just to broaden my horizons kind of thing. And it’s a very nice place. I like their values and I think they follow them, which is not always true. And the care center I think is better than any other skilled nursing facility I’ve ever seen so…

Segment Synopsis: After retiring as a geriatric nurse, this interviewee started volunteering in Kendal's Care Center. Eventually, the administration at Kendal convinced her to move in. As a resident, she continued to volunteer in the Care Center alongside enjoying the general atmosphere of independence at Kendal.

Keywords: Care Center; Committees; Music; Nurses; Quaker Values; Volunteering

Subjects: Community; Finances; Moving

00:02:39 - An attitude of acceptance toward the sudden lockdown

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember the first couple days as Covid was hitting? What your first reactions were? What were your anticipations might have been?

Resident: I had just gotten back from spring training in Arizona. I’m a big Cleveland Indians fan. And I’m not sure I knew what to expect. It’s seemed like, Oh! Everything was shut down all of a sudden and we couldn’t leave our cottages and it just sort of–we had no choice (laughs) we just did what we were told. But I sort of–I mean you accept it. And you just roll with the punches I guess.

Caroline: Yeah, how did you feel like you rolled with the punches? Like what were your coping mechanisms, especially with those first couple of days with the total shutdown, how did your day-to-day life change as that hit?

Resident: We had to learn soon (laughs). Very quickly. I really rely on exercise so I’m a walker. And as long as I could walk outside, which I could, I was still okay. I was quarantined for a while and that drove me crazy, but that was later on–that wasn’t in the beginning. But it sort of was–oh, look they’re delivering my meals, isn’t that nice. I don’t have to go up. I think initially–I don’t at all believe it would last as long as it did. And so we could do anything for a little bit. But we certainly didn’t expect it to be two and a half years later and we’re still dealing with it.

Segment Synopsis: This resident "rolled with the punches" as the pandemic suddenly transformed their lives. She emphasizes acceptance of the rule changes because they had no choice in the matter. She relied on daily walks and exercise to get by. However, she notes that nobody expected the pandemic to last so long.

Keywords: Acceptance; Disbelief; Driven Crazy; Exercise; Food; Learn Quickly; Meal Delivery; No Choice; Outside; Quarantine; Resilience; Roll with the Punches; Shutdown; Uncertainty; Unexpected; Walking

Subjects: Coping Mechanisms; Dining; First Reactions

00:04:49 - Leadership on the New Normal Committee became a support group and a coping mechanism

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: How do you feel like your relationships with people at Kendal changed as the pandemic continued? If they have at all.

Resident: Ohhh. I got appointed–Barbara Thomas very early on in the pandemic–formed a resident group called the New Normal committee. And I was asked to be a member of that. And there were like 12-15 of us. And so–and we were there to be like a consult to the administration or to give the residents’ view. We were not the decision-makers, that was made clear that the administration would make the final decisions. But we really did feel that we were listened to. And they very much followed a lot of our suggestions. But then we sort of became the people residents contacted if they had issues and stuff. Some, not all, that pleasant. But generally fine. But I sort of felt like people looked at me differently because I was on this committee.

Caroline: It’s interesting you’re definitely not the first person to bring up the new normal committee. And the more people bring it up, the more I realize what a big deal it was for the Kendal community.

Resident: Well, it also I was thinking how when you talk about coping, I mean we met every week. And it always was sort of like a support group. You know, and we were, we had say-so in what was going on, which sort of was a good feeling. You know it certainly helped me cope. You know, talking with other residents about all the issues and stuff. Which other people didn’t have. You know, they didn’t understand a lot of the things going on kind of things so…

Caroline: How did they choose who got to be on the new normal committee?

Resident: Barbara Thomas chose. She told me I was chosen because I was a former board member and I’m a nurse. She’s impressed by me being a nurse and a geriatric nurse. She thinks people listen because I’m a nurse. And this with some health issues so it made sense. We also had a doctor on so…she tried to be representative of different, you know, like somebody from the apartment building, you know people who did various things within the community. But of course everybody didn’t feel representative. Like we didn’t have a Jewish person on. We did have somebody from the care center. You know so I think Barbara tried to get a…and I’m sure she chose people who she thought she could work with. And didn’t want to get, you know, all of the complainers and all of the hard-nosed people who wouldn’t be open-minded.

Segment Synopsis: The resident discusses her participation as a member on the New Normal committee. The committee became a type of support group for her, and it made her feel like she had input in Kendal's response, although she recognizes that not everyon had that opportunity. As she became a messenger for Kendal's response, other residents began to see her differently. She explains that Barbara Thomas hand-picked the people for the committee and that she was chosen because of her background as a nurse.

Keywords: Barbara Thomas; Care Center; Disagreement; Health Issues; Leadership; Listened To; Messaging; Nurse; Open-minded; Point of Contact; Representative; Support Group; Talking

Subjects: Administration; Coping Mechanisms; The New Normal Committee

00:08:40 - Attempts to address loneliness for single people at Kendal

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: What were some of the biggest decisions you saw that the New Normal Committee had a large influence on? Or that the New Normal committee felt strongly about that they had to influence?

Resident: If I remember correctly, one of our biggest first concerns was people feeling isolated. Especially people living alone. You know couples had each other, but people living alone were single. And we weren’t allowed to meet with other people kind of thing. And it became clear that people were struggling and so we actually–a resident who was not on our committee, read about this concept in Amsterdam–somewhere in the Netherlands I think–creating these bubbles where you could pair up with residents. It started out with two or four other residents. And make an agreement that only you would meet and you could meet in each other’s cottages without masks and stuff, but you’d have to agree that if somebody got Covid you would all be isolated kind of thing. And of course, that didn’t satisfy everybody so there was lot of discussion about that and some people had five friends–so who do you leave out and some people weren’t comfortable asking people you know…I think what–this is probably more of the long term is that you realized how many different kinds of opinions there are. Or different kinds of needs people have. And how do you satisfy everybody? Which you really never can do. But our major concern at that time I think was the isolation of people and what that would do to their mental health and stuff.

Caroline: What was your personal, as a resident, your personal biggest issue or opinion? It sounds like you were pretty middle of the road or a good mediator. But was there any one issue that you felt particularly strongly about?

Resident: I felt I was the only single person on the committee other than Judi Bachrach from the care center, but she’d been married and she was in the Care Center so…she had a different perspective than I did. So I felt really a responsibility to all the single people because they saw me as their representative on this committee. And they’re the ones who seemed to be having the most issues as far as isolation and stuff. So even though we formed the bubble, it still, there are still a lot of people who felt isolated for various reasons. You know then do we make up a list of all the people who aren’t comfortable asking and try to pair people? It’s like trying to form a marriage partner.

Caroline: That’s a big responsibility.

Segment Synopsis: One of the biggest issues that the New Normal committee faced was addressing isolation, especially for single people. In response, Kendal administration and he New Normal Committee instated the bubble system. However, not everyone was happy with the bubble limitations. As the only single independent living resident on the committee, this resident felt personally responsible for protecting the single residents at Kendal from loneliness.

Keywords: Disagreement; Loneliness; Opinions; Relationships; Responsibility; Struggling

Subjects: Adaptations; Bubbles; Friendship; Innovations; Isolation; Mental Health; Resident Disagreement; Single Residents; The New Normal Committee

00:12:51 - Residents respond differently to the isolation depending on their background

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Did you personally have a good experience with bubbling?

Resident: I just bubbled with my neighbor next door. We used to eat dinner together every Friday evening. And I just felt the need to have a normal–see somebody without a mask (laughs). And talk like a normal person. I sort of felt like not normal anymore–and that was my–didn’t like that new normal–so just seeing. You know and he was willing to do it so…But that’s the only bubble I formed. I’ve been single my whole life, so being alone is what I am. So I think that I’ve finally realized that single women who have always been single really were better than the single who used to be married and lost their partners. I mean one lady in particular would call me all the time because the whole thing just brought back the memories of her husband and he’s gone and how she’s alone and now she has nobody. You know she was the kind of person who would go from table to table at lunch and would talk with everybody and now she had nobody and it really threw her for a loop kind of thing. And people who just couldn’t always understand why they couldn’t do some things. Why can’t I just take my dogs across the street and have them run on the field kind of thing or you know why can’t I go up to water my rose bushes. They just couldn’t get the concept of you know, we’re trying to keep everybody safe. If you go, then everyone should be able to go and then it snowballs.

Segment Synopsis: This resident bubbled with her nextdoor neighbor. Their weekly dinners together made her feel a bit more normal. She notes that her experience as a single person was different because she has always been single. By contrast single women who had lost their husbands really struggled with the isolation during the pandemic. Other people were simply angered by the limitations on personal freedom.

Keywords: Alone; Anger; Disagreement; Frustrated; Masks; Neighbors; Normal; Single Women

Subjects: Bubbles; Friendship; Personal Freedoms; Resident Disagreement; Safety; Single Residents

00:15:11 - Heart problems and breast cancer along with the pandemic: a "bizarre" combination

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: So one of my questions is, if you could describe your own experience over the last two and half years or so in one word or a couple of words, what would you say?

Resident: That would be hard because in October of ‘20 I started with my major health problems. And Covid–it wasn’t my priority at that point. It sort of interfered sometimes with–cuz I did test positive for Covid after I left the Care Center so then I had to be quarantined and then I couldn’t walk outside and that kind of stuff. So what’s the question?

Caroline: So if you could describe the pandemic in one word? But it sounds like you had a very multifaceted experience.

Resident: I think the word I used the most about the whole thing was bizarre. I just felt like everything–my whole life changed (laughed) between the Covid starting and then having a major heart problem and then having breast cancer this is so bizarre. So bizarre is the word.

Caroline: I like that. It’s funny just a wide variety of answers when I’ve asked it but bizarre has to be one of my favorites because that definitely resonates with me. So because of your health things throughout the pandemic, you got to see Kendal but you got to also see very different health-related areas I guess you could say throughout the pandemic. How would you say that Covid affected that aspect of your pandemic experience?

Resident: You mean like being in the hospital or being in the care center?

Caroline: Yeah.

Resident: It’s interesting because I actually was in a room at the hospital that was set up for Covid. It has one of those negative pressure things. I was in the intensive care unit with trouble breathing and stuff so I was you know but I had no control over anything so I just layed there (laughs) and you really don’t have a choice. Cuz you’re having trouble breathing, oh why can’t I get up and you turn on your side and you’re so short of breath and can’t do anything. So you just lay there and hope it gets better. I think I was surprised that I did roll with the punches when I went back on everything I’ve been through, I think then I wonder if I still have like a post-traumatic stress syndrome some time down the line when I’m through with all of this. Am I gonna have a crash or something? But so far, I don’t think so? But I don’t know.

Segment Synopsis: It's difficult for this resident to describe her pandemic experience in one word because she dealt with so many major physical health issues on top of the pandemic, but if she had to choose, she would say "bizarre." During the pandemic, she had a major heart problem followed by a breast cancer diagnosis. During her heart problems, she describes an experience of sheer helplessness while lying immobile in a Covid-19-designated hospital room. She still wonders how she remained calm during these tough times and wonders if eventually have to succumb to the stress.

Keywords: Acceptance; Bizarre; Cancer; Helplessness; Hospitals; Intensive Care unit; No Control; Quarantine; Roll with the Punches

Subjects: Future; Mental Health; Physical Health

00:18:35 - Resilience stems from a strong upbringing and supportive family

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Obviously, sometimes that just happens but are there reasons in particular you think you’ve been so resilient?

Resident: I really think I’ve had a very stable upbringing. Never really had privilege. You know people feel like they deserve things and stuff and I’ve–that’s not how I was brought up. I was brought up in a working-class family. We worked hard for everything we did. We accepted what we couldn’t do or what–and I think you just accept things as they come if you have no control over changing them and stuff. You just go along because that’s life. And accept it. I’m hoping that’s what it is and that something isn’t gonna throw me off, but–but I feel very lucky to have a very supporting family. My mother in particular. My father was the authoritarian, which we still had a very good relationship, but my mother was the one who talked my father into getting us all the things we wanted. And then I have two sisters and they’ve–one has since passed, but you know I keep in touch with Rita all the time during the pandemic we FaceTimed twice a week and stuff and now, every Sunday morning we FaceTime so…

Segment Synopsis: The resident describes that her family and upbringing played a major role in her resilience today. Moreover, FaceTiming with her sister was helpful throughout the pandemic.

Keywords: Acceptance; Childhood; FaceTime; Parents; Resilience; Support; Upbringing

Subjects: Communication Technology; Coping Mechanisms; Family

00:20:38 - Volunteering in the Care Center as a way of giving back to the Kendal community

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: I’m also interested, because you did work in the care center a lot before the pandemic, what are your thoughts on the–I see you haven’t been able to go in very often–what are your thoughts on how it’s changed and whether you’d be interested in returning?

Resident: The only reason I have not returned yet is because the state regulations–are requiring–I am a certified, I don’t know if we’re certified or what, but we had to go through some testing to become an official volunteer. And the state is requiring that we get tested twice a week and since I–I tested positive that one time, I’ve never had any symptoms, then I went on a trip in October and I tested positive without any symptoms, and so by the time we get the PCR back to prove you’re negative you have to be quarantined and I just refuse to have to two tests every week. I thought you know I really don’t need that kind of hassle. So at this point, I’m on the inactive list. But I do plan to go back. I actually spent every Saturday morning in the Jameson House before, though I knew a lot of the other residents because when I volunteered before I moved in I did the whole center and there wasn’t a Jameson House then. But I do plan to go back. I think that’s part of me. I feel that that’s my contribution to the community. Because I’m not a music person and I’m not a crafty person I have none of these other skills that everybody else has, but I do understand healthcare and stuff. So I do plan to go back.

Caroline: Yeah, I just–it’s really interesting you were in geriatric nursing because that’s become just such a difficult job in the last two years or so.

Resident: Now in Jameson House I think there’s only like two or three people there left from two and half years now from when I was volunteering there every week.

Caroline: Yeah, they’ve moved people in and out and it has become a very conscious choice because they were a bubble, so moving someone in or out because was like a big deal cuz they wouldn’t be able to leave or they wouldn’t be able to go back.

Resident: But I know you know some of the people who went in. I knew from when they were in the care center, so I know some of the other people but they weren’t in the Jameson House when I was there.

Segment Synopsis: The resident explains that she has not gone back to volunteering in the Care Center because she is afraid of continuously testing positive due to the biweekly testing requirements for volunteers. However, she does look forward to going back because she feels like her background in healthcare is her contribution to the Kendal community. She doesn't share the same hobbies as other Kendal residents, but she can help people in the Care Center.

Keywords: Bubbles; Care Center; Contribution; Nurses; Quarantine; State Regulations; Testing; Volunteering

Subjects: Community; Helping Others; Hobbies

00:23:50 - Pandemic-related objects: Sources of comfort through cancer treatment

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: So do you have an object that you’d like to discuss?

Resident: I was trying to think about that because both things would be connected to my cancer. And you wanted it in connection with Covid, right?

Caroline: No, because that was your Covid experience what legitimately was your–

Resident: I took up Chinese painting. I don’t know if you’d call that an object, but this is my art studio and all my brushes and stuff. But I have no talent.

Caroline: I don’t believe it.

Resident: Believe it. And I don’t call it painting, I call it therapy. And the only thing I really have accomplished is at Christmas time I painted 12 Christmas cards. I had this need to thank people, letting them know how much I appreciated them helping me over the past year and a half and so I made a personal card for them and I painted my very minimal picture on it. But I put on a Chinese symbol so they would know it was Chinese. And then my niece gave me this (raises up stuffed heart). She also had breast cancer. So when I go for my chemotherapy I would hold my heart. So that’s that object. And the only other thing I got was one of the remnants of the–and it’s not so much the object as the thought behind the object–but there’s this group and they send you links–so I don’t wear this but you’re supposed to wear it around your neck. But it’s a group.

Caroline: So they’re all different…

Resident: So it’s a bicycle link. But it’s just the fact that she sent it to me to sort of stay connected and she’d write me something every week kind of thing. So that was quite meaningful.

Segment Synopsis: This resident picked up Chinese art as a new hobby and a type of therapy during the pandemic. She made several Chinese paintings as Christmas gifts to say thank you to the people who supported her during her chemo treatments. The resident picked out several other gifts from her family that were meaningful to her throughout her cancer.

Keywords: Cancer; Chemo; Gratitude; Meaningful; Painting; Therapy

Subjects: Family; Friendship; Hobbies; Mental Health; Physical Health

00:26:34 - Amateur Chinese painter by accident: A new way of helping others

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Going back to the Chinese painting, what drew you toward that medium of art?

Resident: Oh, nothing (laughs). A friend of mine had a friend who was a Chinese painter. And my friend was gonna take lessons from her and said why don’t I come along. I had absolutely no interest in doing it, but I thought, oh, that’d be something different, something to do. So I started. And I have trouble getting into it because I have to be in the mood and be inspired, and I lately–so one of my goals is to really work on putting aside time and do it a lot more seriously than I have been.

Caroline: Did you learn from your friend? Or mostly from your own practice?

Resident: I don’t practice enough (laughs). And for a while my friend across–Judi Bachrach–she lives right across the way here. She was going through a bad time with her back over part of the summer. It was September/October. Where she wasn’t able to get out of bed and stuff. And she was, I don’t know if depressed, but down. So I decided to paint her a picture every day. And I did it every day for like two weeks.

Caroline: That’s impressive.

Resident: I forced myself every day because I knew Judi–she really appreciated that kind of thing. But she didn’t care what it looked like. It was the thought that meant–

Caroline: That’s what’s nice about having one of those arts because you can do something thoughtful with it for other people.

Segment Synopsis: The resident picked up Chinese painting by happenstance because one of her friend's was taking lessons and asked her to come along. She laments that she does not practice enough and her goal is to incorporate painting into her daily routine. However, she describes a time when one of her friends was feeling down, so she made this friend a painting every day for two weeks. She could tell that the friend appreciated it, no matter what the painting looked like.

Keywords: Painting

Subjects: Friendship; Helping Others; Hobbies; Mental Health; Physical Issues

00:28:35 - Coping with cancer through writing

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Partial Transcript: Resident: The other thing that I found very–that I almost had to do to cope–I discovered the lump in my breast very shortly after I got the news that my heart was back to normal–ejection, fraction kind of thing. So my heart was back and I was feeling quite good and I was on a “yippee” kind of thing and then I found the lump in my breast. And so I really felt the need to sit down and write about my whole heart thing. So I could like put it away and not have to deal with it anymore, so I could deal with the breast cancer. So wrote this whole article called J broke my heart.

Caroline: And did you publish it anywhere or did you keep it for yourself?

Resident: I sent it to some friends. I didn’t intend to write it–you know what the Eureka is? I didn’t write it–I just wrote it for myself, but I shared it with some friends who were involved. I didn’t put any names in it but they knew who they were. And they said, oh! You should submit this to Eureka. But I’m not a writer either. But they accepted it so I did. And if you’d like to read it, you’d be more than welcome to. Now I can give you a hard copy, or I could send it to you digitally because a friend of mine copied it, scanned it–sent it to me in an email so I have it in an email. So you can have either one.

Caroline: Either one. Did you find anything surprising about writing about it? I mean that process…

Resident: Only because I’m not a writer and it just flowed–flew out of me. With very little changes. I thought somebody may feel the needed to rewrite it or something. Because there’s a lot of very good writers here who write all the time and being a nurse we wrote nursing notes. I mean I had to do a thesis and stuff, but on a regular basis I never had to write stories or anything like that so I don’t consider myself a writer and this just came out of me it was like…I can give you a hard copy.

Caroline: So as you were going in and out of chemo you must’ve been leaving Kendal much more often than most people?

Resident: Yes–I had to go weekly for 12 years for chemo. And so I–and everybody knew that and I told them you know I’m at high risk so I didn’t mingle a lot or anything.

Segment Synopsis: This resident found out she had breast cancer directly after recovering from heart problems. To cope, she took to writing about her story. A few of her friends convinced her to publish the story in Kendal's magazine. She was surprised that the writing flowed out of her because she had never been a writer before.

Keywords: Cancer; Chemo; Writing

Subjects: Coping Mechanisms; Friendship; Hobbies; Self-Discovery

00:31:27 - Intensive cancer treatment during Covid-19

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: So as you were going in and out of chemo you must’ve been leaving Kendal much more often than most people?

Resident: Yes–I had to go weekly for 12 years for chemo. And so I–and everybody knew that and I told them you know I’m at high risk so I didn’t mingle a lot or anything.

Caroline: What were your coping mechanisms during that time period because that sounds like that would have been…

Resident: The chemo wasn’t horrible. But it was very uncomfortable on some days. So it was like dealing just with what am I gonna be like today. I had trouble eating. I was losing weight. I was having digestive issues and diarrhea and kind of issues. And so it was more surviving through that–to the next infusion kind of thing. And that takes up your whole–all your energy to survive so…and then when I had to do the radiation that was every day for 21 treatments. Monday through Friday I didn’t go on weekends–and I thought, oh, every day? Then I thought well you know I used to go to work every day, I got up every morning, so you know I felt like I’m going to work (laughs). I have to do it every day. It’s just like a job.

Caroline: Yeah, it creates a routine, a terrible routine.

Resident: I’m still getting–I’m actually having like three different kinds of treatments. There’s the chemotherapy, and started with that there’s also an immunotherapy. Because my cancer’s quite aggressive so luckily there’s an immunotherapy for my kind of cancer. But you have to do it over a year, so every three weeks I still get an infusion, but I’m down to my–I have my fifteenth and there’s a total of 17 so I have two more to go. So April 5th I’ll be done with my infusions and I’m looking at that like a freedom day or the start of my new life or something but I’m really looking forward to it so like I can put that behind me maybe.

Caroline: Maybe write another story.

Resident: Write another story, yeah.

Segment Synopsis: This resident has gone through a year of intensive cancer treatment. She decided to look at it like her new job. During this time, she suffered from serious health issues. She looks forward to the end of her treatment as a type of "freedom day."

Keywords: Acceptance; Chemo; Freedom; Hospitals; Physicial Issues; Risks; Survive; Uncomfortable

Subjects: Future; Physical Health

00:34:26 - When isolation becomes routine, pandemic habits remain

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: It is really interesting to hear you talk about how, no matter how big the pandemic is, when something bigger comes along, that thing has to take precedence. So as Kendal has been opening up again, have you been able to enjoy any of those things?

Resident: Sure. I don’t know how immunosuppressed I am. So I go through times where I think I need to be more careful anyhow. But then I think I use it as an excuse (laughs). I’m not that–I’m not that social. I mean I’m social enough, but I really–I’m not an extrovert, you know I don’t crave being around people and stuff, so I really have not been back to any of the activities in the auditorium. I had a committee meeting yesterday and there were maybe 20 people there and that’s the biggest group I’ve been in without a mask since the pandemic. And I think I’ll slowly come back, but once I come home it’s very hard for me to get up energy to go back out in the evening to something. And I prefer eating a large meal at lunch, so I got over for lunch and I often–not often maybe once a week, I eat with somebody. Otherwise I bring it–you know I get into this routine during the pandemic and now I miss my new (laughs) TV that I watch a lot of good things, so I rush home. But I do enjoy eating with other people. But I think gradually I will go back, it’s just that at this point–plus I’m having some eye issues and I have five eye drops to take.

Caroline: Like throughout the day?

Resident: Well, mostly in the evening. Two of them are at bedtime. One of them is twice a day so I take it once in the morning. Two of them are twice a day. So those two I take in the morning. But then I also take them in the evening and then I have three more drops after that. And I time them out because they pinch and so if I go out in the evening (laughs) I have to re-plan my eye drop routine. Which I can do but it’s easier if I’m home sticking to my regular routines. So I have reasons not to want to go out.

Caroline: Yes, it’s funny I see it in the care center where we’ve all just developed new routines that are all necessarily more isolated, but it’s hard to switch back when it’s been two years now of the same.

Resident: Yeah, I just–I mean I really enjoy being in the community center without my mask. I hate the mask because it does affect my breathing so…so if nobody’s around I pull it down my nose so I can breathe better.

Segment Synopsis: This resident describes that she still has not fully returned to participating in community activities, partly because of her health and partly because of her new solo routines. For instance, she has grown accustomed to eating by herself.

Keywords: Activities; Home; Immunosuppressed; Introvert; Physical Issues; Routines; Social; Unlearning

Subjects: Dining; Isolation; Masks; New Habits

00:38:11 - The long-term impact of Covid-19 on the Kendal community

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: I have two more kind of big questions. Or I guess more broad questions. Part of the reason why I decided to do this project was because there was so much news about what was going on in communities of older adults, but not a lot of actual voices of people living in those communities. And so I’m wondering…

Resident: Nobody thinks we can talk…

Caroline: So if you were to explain Kendal and Kendal during the pandemic in particular to somebody who’s never been to an elderly living community what would you want them to know?

Resident: I think Kendal was a lot stricter than a lot of other places. I think they felt very obligated to protect us. I think some people certainly resented that and felt all their freedoms were being taken away and had a hard time dealing with that. I did not, plus I was on the New Normal committee (laughs) so I knew about it. But we also had no independent living residents die from Covid. And the two that died in the Care Center, even though they tested positive for Covid, it’s not necessarily known if they died of Covid because one was on hospice already kind of thing. So success, I feel the fact that they were so strict was very successful. And you have to weigh that against, did it have a real mental health impact that we never recover from, but I don’t see that. People seem to be coming back and jumping right into doing what they’ve always done. At this point in time, I don’t see there being a major mental health issue. There might be some individuals. But even the lady who was having all the trouble is back to her old self, going over every day for lunch and supper talking to everybody kind of thing so…and I think you know skilled nursing, Stacy is very conservative and follows the regulations to the tee. So I felt bad for the residents there more because I do think probably it took–we had a lot of deaths and most of them in the Care Center even though it wasn’t Covid. And I can’t imagine that some of that just was not Covid-influenced somehow–just the will to live or whatever you want to call it. But there’s no way of knowing that. It’s just my opinion because we’ve had times before where we’ve had a rash of deaths also, but for a while there, every time you looked at the board there was new face up there. It was like a real wheel-spin so…but you know Kendal did some things you know they, and my one doctor still laughs about it, they required that we get a pass to leave campus, and if we go to the doctor’s office, the doctor had to sign the pass that we were there. My one eye doctor just laughed. He felt it was like (laughs) and he still jokes about it when I go see him–”no pass today?” And I think that was hard for a lot of people. And when you look back, you think, wasn’t that crazy? (laughs). But it worked so...

Segment Synopsis: This resident describes Kendal's response as strict yet successful. She notes that no Independent Living residents died from Covid, so she understands why the administration was so conservative. For doctor's appointments, the resident recalls that Kendal required residents to get a signed note from their doctors. Although she admits that there might be a long-term mental health impact, she has seen that Kendal residents have quickly returned to their social lives. However, she thinks that the mental toll of the pandemic lockdown likely contributed to the large number of deaths in the Care Center during Covid-19.

Keywords: Care Center; Conservative; Crazy; Death; Doctor's Appointments; New Normal Committee; Protection; Resentment; Resilience; Stacy Terrell; Strict; Success; Will to Live

Subjects: Administration; Covid Cases; Grief; Loss; Mental Health; Personal Freedoms; Resident Disagreement; Rules and Restrictions

00:42:54 - A hopeful yet realistic perspective on the future: Making the most of life before death

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: And then finally, I guess this would also be related to your cancer, but recently attitudes have fluctuated between hope and pessimism about this pandemic, how are you feeling going into spring? What are your plans? Are you hopeful or are you more pessimistic?

Resident: Now I’m definitely more hopeful. I’m also realistic. I don’t consider myself being cured. I don’t know if you ever get cured of cancer there’s always a chance of it coming back and think mine has a better chance than others because it’s aggressive. And being a geriatric nurse I really believe in celebrating people who die. I don’t believe in grieving them–I mean I know it’s sad and I know people grieve, but it’s a natural life occurrence, so I-I can talk about death I’m ready whenever and I keep talking about how I have to reboot my life now because my whole life has changed over the past two years with all these health issues and what do I want to do. I don’t know if I’ll become a famous Chinese painter or now I doubt it but I will practice more (laughs) and see my potential. I’m planning a trip and this will be a big deal for me because I really haven’t been anywhere other than a short trip to Kentucky in October. And I’m really good on campus because I know the campus, I know the terrain. I don't have to worry about cracks in the sidewalk and all that kind of stuff or any unevenness I know where it is anyhow. But when I go out in the greater community I’m not nearly as confident. It's like I have to learn all over again how to adjust to the bigger community. And I’ve been having some balance, and I’ve gone through PT, and I have balance exercises that I do every day. But I’m planning a trip Memorial day weekend. I have a great niece in TX who's graduating from high school and so I just made plane reservations this morning and I’m not going–I would never go by myself because I don’t really know how much I can do. And I don’t have–I feel like I’ve used up a lot of my coping skills. I’m sort of a little–if something would go wrong, me coping with it aren’t as good as they used to be. But my–my nephew called just to see how I was and mentioned he was going to Texas to Jaimie’s graduation, and he was going by himself because his wife had to be in school the the they had to fly back and he was going by himself. So I thought, oh! I said how would you like a buddy (laughs). So he gave me his plane reservation information and stuff and he’s–he’s the one nephew who…I’d be very comfortable with going. He’s a very caring guy. He was the only nephew that came–my two nieces came all the time to the hospital and so did Michael. The other one is in Texas and the other one in Brunswick—isn’t good at that kind of thing at all. I always felt Michael should be a counselor or something. He’s truly good at that sort of thing. So that will be my first big trip.

Caroline: That’s very exciting.

Resident: And they may have the opportunity to go to Mystic in August. I haven’t told anybody in Mystic yet. But a friend of mine here is driving to Massachusetts in August to visit with her daughter and offered to take me along and drop me off in Mystic if I wanted to. So I will probably do that. Cuz I can’t drive. I’m having some trouble with macular degeneration and some distortion of my vision. So I sort of have to have perfect weather to drive and stuff so I wouldn’t do it on my own.

Segment Synopsis: The resident describes herself as a hopeful realist. She knows that her cancer will never be totally cured. As a geriatric nurse, she is not afraid of discussing her own death and believes that death is something to be celebrated. Looking ahead, she's excited to go to her niece's graduation in Texas and visit her sister in Mystic, Connecticut. She needs people to accompany her during these trips because she is not accustomed to navigating places outside of Kendal and she says that she's used up all of her coping skills.

Keywords: Cancer; Coping Skills; Death; Hope; Nurses; Painting; Physical Issues; Realist

Subjects: Coping Mechanisms; Family; Future; Grief; Hobbies; Physical Health; Travel

00:48:56 - Letting go of stressful obligations in favor of hobbies and travel

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Well I’m glad you have all these things planned and I’m glad you’re heading toward your spring of freedom.

Resident: Two days after my last infusion we’re going to Amish country.

Caroline: Is that like PA?

Resident: No. Well there is one there but we have one south of here. So…she’s never been to Amish country so…good food (laughs). Amish cooking. And Amish bakeries. And Amish everything so. So I don’t know what the rest of my life is gonna be. I’m planning–I think to have to give up some of the things I’m doing and spend more time on painting and doing things that are more fun than obligation kind of things. But we’ll because I sort of enjoy some of the obligation kind of things so (laughs).

Caroline: It’s hard to know when there’s an overlap between obligation and some–

Resident: There’s kind of a conference coming up in September–I’m active–I actually chair a group called dementia-friendly discussion group. And I’m on this group called dementia education group. And there's a conference in September from this group called Dementia Action Alliance. And three years ago we did a presentation at that conference and so it’s coming up again this September. And they’re thinking about maybe we should do another presentation. And I told them I would not. I think they should do a presentation but I think other people should do it. And it’s mostly because I don’t want that much stress.

Caroline: Yeah, that’s a relief. Letting that go. You’re becoming a famous painter. How are you supposed to do both of those, you can’t! And painting is definitely number one priority right now.

Resident: Provided I can get into the chi–the poor instructor keeps trying to get us to stay with the traditional Chinese kind of things. You know she still likes to make her own paint on a rock kind of thing because as you do that you build up your Chi and you get into the—well I just go buy a bottle. And maybe that’s my problem I’m not doing the Chi–

Caroline: That’s it! Now we know why it hasn’t worked out yet [both laughing].

Segment Synopsis: This resident describes her need to let go over some of her obligations because she no longer wants the stress. For example, she used to chair a group on dementia education, but she wants to let others take over those responsibilities. Instead, she's looking forward to traveling and getting into her Chinese painting.

Keywords: Dementia; Freedom; Painting; Stress; Uncertainty

Subjects: Future; Hobbies; New Habits; Travel