Eleven months into a pandemic, none of us could have imagined all the ways COVID-19 has changed our lives and conversations over the past year. We now talk routinely about quarantining, Zooming, social distancing, e-learning, masking and remote working.
We long for, hope for, the day our lives will return to “normal,” but we suspect that COVID-19 has forever changed us and our culture. What will our new normal look like?
We also know more about the harmful effects of social isolation on physical and mental health, which has been compared to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The image of family members sitting outside the window of an elderly loved one is forever etched in our minds. Will our shared experience give us greater empathy for the more than 12 million Americans over age 65 who live alone? The loneliest time of day for this cohort is mealtime (Pew Research Center, May 2016).
Surprisingly, finding ways to connect with others during COVID-19 means some have rediscovered “old-fashioned” methods—things like phone calls, sending a card or letter by mail, delivering a meal, book or a favorite treat. Seniors (like all of us) are delighted to know they matter and are highly regarded.
How are faith communities staying connected during the pandemic?
Likewise, faith communities have been challenged to stay connected while remaining socially distant. Although some have been live streaming services for years, others have been forced into the practice recently to keep their membership connected. Today, worship services, small groups, coffee hours, and support meetings are all done virtually on Facebook, Zoom and FaceTime.
Some faith communities are reaching out by sending CDs, DVDs or recordings of services to members without access to technology. People are delivering gifts, food, flowers and driving by to celebrate special occasions. Sharing familiar songs and hymns can be a comforting way to connect, as can making “care and concern” calls to show others they are valued and not forgotten.
Community and connection remain vital, even in a pandemic. Make a difference today in your faith community by reaching out to others!
CICOA is featured monthly on RadioNext Jumbolove to share information about CICOA services with the greater Indianapolis community. Join us on the second Saturday of each month at 9:00 a.m. on CICOA’s Facebook Page.
Find out how CICOA can help members of your faith community live independently and with dignity.
Denise Jones Harrington
Denise Jones Harrington is a Licensed Social Worker and Addictions Counselor. As the Faith Partnership Coordinator, she is responsible for building collaborative relationships with faith communities by introducing them to the services of CICOA. Denise has worked as a contractual therapist for over 25 years, providing services under her own name. She has been a therapist with Alpha Resources Inc. for 19 years and served as the Senior Ministry Consultant for Irvington, Faith and Northminster Presbyterian Churches for the last five years. She also volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Association and serves on the Community Advisory Board for the Indiana Alzheimer’s Disease and Research Center.