Making A Connection

Have you been struggling with the flood of social media sites for day-to-day communications?

In my work as a professor of Social Work, I see person-to-person contacts lagging while network-to-network social connections multiply. With technological advances our contemporary society is more connected than ever.

Connecting with others and recognizing their needs, and our own, provides a vital connection for our everyday lives. Yet we are, in fact, less socially engaged than ever before. We connect through technology, but our interpersonal and intimate relationships remain far behind. Simply put, we connect more, and relate less.

And the Covid-19 pandemic, which has now taken half a million lives (at this writing), only compounds our communication deficits. Yet we need to connect. Connecting with a partner, family, friends, children, and others helps us open up our pandemic-shuttered world.

Below are some “connecting” ideas. I would welcome any other areas you might suggest, or any observations you might on “connecting.”

  • My Life, My Stories – Looking for a way to connect, share and tell your story?  Check our My Life, My Stories, an amazing non-profit organization that seeks to connect generations for storytelling and relating.
  • Encore – Dedicated to intergenerational community building, Encore has a variety of programs available for those wanting to make their next move.
  • Gifts of Gab (primarily for social workers) – is a volunteer call-based companion coordination that connects social work students with those in need of social interaction to combat the negative effects loneliness can have on long term health.

  • AARP Connect2Effect – AARP has numerous options for connecting, volunteering, and supporting.

Voting for All of Us: 2 Good Reasons to Vote

The 2020 Election, on November 3rd, provides us with an opportunity to exercise our right, as citizens, to vote for the candidate(s) we support. This year we have two very good reasons to vote. 

First, there’s health and income security.  

We need to speak up, with our vote, for candidates who support the Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and Medicare Part A (the part that covers hospitalizations). 

The Trust Fund provides automatic spending authority to pay monthly benefits to retired-worker (old-age) beneficiaries and their spouses and children and to survivors of deceased insured workers. With such spending authority, the Social Security Administration does not need to periodically request money from the Congress to pay benefits.

In a recent message to the public, the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees shared how Social Security and Medicare have been experiencing the threat of insolvency, even prior to COVID 19, due to the natural increase in the number of older people in our country today. With the amount of current taxed income, they estimate that only 76% of scheduled benefits will be covered in the future. 

We need radical change in the funding of these programs so that they will be available as our country grows. We need our representatives, nationally and in our state, to create long-lasting change so that both programs will be preserved and expanded. And you can make a difference with your vote.

Second, there’s contributions to generations to come

Often, we categorize generations in terms of what they contribute, or perhaps don’t contribute, to our country. For example, today we are seeing the passing of what TV has termed “The Greatest Generation,” the Americans who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II, or whose labor helped win it. 

We’re also seeing the graying of Baby Boomers – the Woodstock generation – who once broke down taboos. Today, the Boomers might be a tad more reluctant to change the status quo. 

And there’s the Milennials – and the Generations X, Y, and Z – who will also, one day, be labeled according to their generation’s approach to life. 

What will your legacy be? What difference will you make? 

Erik Erikson, the American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on psychological development of human beings, maintained that at around the age of 65, individuals are faced with the conflict between feeling fulfilled or unfulfilled with their life. It’s part of a “looking back” effect of aging. 

But whatever generation we call our own, we have an opportunity, with the 2020 Election, to move things forward. We have an opportunity to look ahead to making our nation stronger, for all of us. With our vote, we have an opportunity to help our country move toward critical change. That’s something we can all contribute to, no matter our age or our age group.

Thoughts on Care Transitions During COVID 19

Helping transition someone, such as a family member or friend, from their home to a facility is often difficult and complex, especially during the COVID 19 pandemic. Even the mere decision to transition can result in a lengthy and tumultuous process that requires a great deal of thinking, evaluating, researching and understanding. This experience can require both physical and psychological endurance. As a social worker who has been part of many transitions, here are my thoughts on the process:

Physical Changes

HomeThe individual who is leaving their home is oftentimes leaving a space in which they have spent many years. For some, this home is the first home they purchased; their first home after a divorce; the home where they raised a family; the home that was there for them during the good and bad times.

BelongingsThe individual is often unable to bring many of their belongings to their new space. Although many facilities allow and encourage older adults to personalize their room and space, this is not possible all the time. For example, if the individual is moving to a nursing home facility, they are not only unable to bring their own furniture and bed, but they also are being asked to share their space with someone they do not know. 

• Roommate: Sometimes, an individual moving to a facility where they will share their room with another is happy with the company and connection. However, in thinking about people coming from all backgrounds and life experiences, we must consider that sharing space with others – sometimes others who have physical and mental health conditions that encroach cross boundaries – may not be an ideal situation. 

As a former nursing home social worker, I have been a part of many conversations where roommate changes were requested because of disturbances; concerns about safety and more generally; or just someone wanting their own space. After all, an individual likely had their own space for many years prior to being asked to downsize, sometimes overnight, to a shared room. 

Psychological Changes

LossThis transition can itself symbolize loss for an individual, however there also could be other reasons why they are experiencing a loss. For example, if the transition is occurring because of the loss of physical ability. Or, the loss of memory. Or the loss of a family member who cared for them. The loss of financial security that could have resulted in this move. Once moved in, an individual can feel the loss of their home, their former life, their independence and freedom. In most facilities, whether a nursing home or assisted living, individuals cannot move freely without checking in. Staff always seem to be in need of knowing where the individual is going and when they are coming back.  In nursing homes, even more so.

Anger/Depression/Anxiety: I group these emotions together because an individual transitioning into a setting may experience one, two or all three at any given time during the process and thereafter. Sometimes this is a result of the changes and loss. Other times these emotions exist because the individual is potentially unable to understand the benefits of this transition for their health and wellbeing. And, they may disagree about what is possible to achieve their health and wellbeing.  

Lastly, and most important in my work as a social worker, is the actual decision-making process itself. Are you including the person in the decision-making process? Why or why not? How have you brought concerns about them at home up? This is so important when talking about a transition because often moving is a result of someone being unsafe at home and needing more help. But we all know that it can be very challenging to accept things about ourselves, especially when someone else is telling us about it.


There is no right or wrong answer when someone asks about whether they should wait to transition an individual into a care facility because of COVID 19. This is a decision each person has the right to make on their own, but they also have a right to ask the facility questions so that they may be better informed about risk. Here are some questions below to consider asking:

  • How many residents were diagnosed with COVID 19?
  • How many staff were diagnosed with COVID 19?
  • What is the protocol for staff diagnosed with COVID 19, how long do they quarantine?
  • What is the visitor policy during the COVID 19 pandemic?
  • What is the screening process for both residents and staff with regards to COVID 19?
  • How are residents able to interact during COVID 19?
  • What is the screening process for incoming residents with regards to COVID 19?
  • What other safety precautions exist with regards to COVID 19?

My final thoughts on this multifaceted subject are:

Think about the decision and the individual. Consider how they will react, and how might you best be a resource of support for them. Think about how you are advocating with them. Think about realistic needs and ways to address them based on the individual. Know that older people are incredibly strong and resilient. They have lived through wars and social change movements, and have had life struggles and change just like any other aged person.  

So, when reading this list, and thinking about the individual in your life in need, don’t forget to share back with them their strengths and positive attributes, along with where they may benefit from extra support. It is critical that we do this in order to help reframe what needing help during later life looks and feels like.

So, how are you? Are you in the midst of making a decision like this? Have you already made the decision and are in need of someone to listen?


  • The National Institute on Aging has a variety of educational resources to learn more about dementia and its’ impact. Here is a link to their website:
  • When looking at different facilities for long-term or short-term care, I always consult Medicare to see their reviews of each facility. Here is the link to their website where you can type in your zip code and see the ratings of facilities:
  • It is difficult to cope with changes, especially as we see our loved ones and family members experience these changes. Here is a link to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s website. There are a host of informational readings here about dementia but also about caregiving and ideas on how to approach specific scenarios that can be challenging for everyone involved. They also have a helpline with licensed social workers, not volunteers.
  • Locating Area Agency on Aging. They are the local hub or resources offered by the county/state, and also can be helpful with general referrals and support. Here is a link to the website where you can find your local Agency on Aging.

Helpful Articles

From AARP –

From NextAvenue –

From the CDC –

How Are You?

The COVID 19 pandemic has created a series of “new normals” for everyone.  For example, the new normal of wiping our groceries to rid leftover germs. The new normal for socializing-outside and at a distance. The new normal of wearing a mask. 

These “new normals” that are a part of daily life today can bring up new feelings or unearth existing feelings. For example, many have written about the impact of COVID 19 on people’s mental health, with upticks in the amount of people living with anxiety, depression and grief. Along with grieving the loss of family or friends who passed away as a result of COVID 19, it is completely understandable to experience grief and mourn the loss of our “old normals.” 

While these losses are in no equivalent, losing our “old normals” can still cause pain and longing. A time when we did not have to take these extra steps whenever we left or returned to our homes. When we could go to a movie, or a restaurant, and experience joy and connection and not fear of contracting a virus that we still seem to know little about.  A time when our decision-making was not burdened with risk for ourselves, our families and society as a whole. I miss those times.

So, how are you? What is a new normal you’re experiencing right now? Any silver linings?