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Ways of coping until life can return to normal

Paying attention to our health — both physical as well as emotional and mental — takes on increasing importance as we age. The aging process, as we have all learned, wreaks havoc on our bodies. There is, after all, only so much preventive maintenance we can do before age and genetics — and gravity — win over all of our best efforts to stay fit. And these days I find myself having to consciously try harder to stay mentally and emotionally strong in the face of what is happening in our world right now. I cannot remember a time when I have felt the lack of control to such a degree as I do now when faced with COVID, ongoing systemic racism, natural disasters out west, the politicization of everything in the face of the upcoming election, and our country so strikingly divided. Nightly news footage dramatically shows these divisions, and I feel them as I intentionally avoid certain topics in conversation with family and friends. I wonder sometimes, in my lowest moments, how we are ever going to move toward a brighter future.

I found some great advice a while back in a most unusual place — on the back of a cereal box, no less! There it was — staring me in the face as I ate my breakfast. “Feel Good About Yourself” it announced in big yellow letters on a green background. Then the remainder of the space was taken up by a series of helpful tips and suggestions in four categories: Positive Living, Stress Relief, Pay It Forward and Pay It Backward. So, I share them with you today in the hopes that some will strike a chord with you, as they did with me, and be of some help until we can collectively turn the page on this challenging year of our nation’s history.

The Positive Living box offered these guidelines:

— Surround yourself with people who bring you up. I am sure by this stage of life, we all have known our fair share of toxic people — those folks who could find something wrong with a perfect day at the beach. If those negative Nellies are co-workers or casual acquaintances, you can limit your contact with them. But if negative Ned is your husband, you will need to stick up for yourself or compensate in some way to diminish the toxic impact of someone you cannot avoid.

— Generously share your knowledge with others. Our age has given us a lot of life experience we can share with younger people to help give them strength and hope and bolster our own in the process.

— Take time for self-love and soul searching. Introspection is time well spent and a great teacher.

— Introduce yourself to your neighbors or give yourself time to have a neighborly chat with the folks who have been living next door for years.

— Avoid spreading negativity and gossip. Instead, choose to be open-minded and thoughtful; spread compliments and be an active listener for others.

— Don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, reflect on how far you have come in your own life and the many obstacles you have found your way around on your journey.

— Spread kindness and optimism; send handwritten notes of thanks and give out smiles.

— Smile at, and compliment, a stranger and be thoughtful of others.

— Appreciate what you have — either time or possessions — and share your abundance by donating clothing or volunteering for a community initiative.

— Don’t dwell on the past. Believe in your continued ability to overcome obstacles.

— Get more sleep; the world looks a lot better when we are well rested.

The Stress Relief section offered these 10 tips:

— Meditate. Ten minutes a day of deep breathing and thinking of a soothing scene can greatly reduce stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure.

— Laugh — loud and often.

— Decompress. Apply a heat wrap to your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes.

— Listen to calming music in a major key.

— Exercise. Walking, riding a stationary bike, stretching — whatever you can tolerate — done regularly for 10 minutes a day will yield positive results.

— Just breathe. Breathing exercises can boost oxygen levels and relieve tension.

— Prepare — organize your day in advance. I do this all the time with a weekly menu, a grocery list and a daily schedule of chores I want to accomplish. It has helped me to feel in control of at least part of my life.

— Compartmentalize by focusing on one thing at a time from start to finish. This is especially helpful as we age and tend to naturally get more scattered.

— When you find yourself in a slump, reach out to a friend. This will not only help you but help them to feel more useful too.

— Take a daily getaway — no cell phones allowed. Find a special place to which you can retreat for some solitude — a place that allows you to disconnect for as little as 10 minutes. My personal retreat has become Niagara’s boat landing. Watching the river calms me down, and all of the trees lift my spirit. And there is something very reassuring about the sameness of nature amid all of our turmoil.

Pay It Forward had these suggestions:

— Share your umbrella.

— Clean up a public area.

— Leave a good book behind for someone to find and enjoy.

— Help a friend move.

— Hold open a door for someone.

— Let people merge in during traffic. Granted, not a big challenge in our rural area, but road rage exists so do your part to help.

— Offer someone your seat or your place in line at the grocery store.

And, finally, the Pay It Backward box suggested we simply pick up the coffee tab for the people in the car behind us. I think that would be really fun — an inexpensive treat for them and you, as you imagine their surprise!

None of these suggestions is time consuming. None of them cost a lot of money. They just require us to adopt a few new habits in order to navigate through this challenging time in our history with mental and emotional health intact.

One suggestion, surprisingly, did not make the list on the back of that cereal box … watch a Packer football game! The NFL has started its season, and it once again is possible to watch those Packers play. I am writing this just after Aaron Rogers led the team to a victory over the Minnesota Vikings — those “dirty dogs,” as my mother-in-law calls them and any other conference foe. Granted, there was no preseason this year, and the piped-in crowd noise sounded “almost” like fans in the stands. But Wayne Larrivee and Larry McCarren were announcing on WJNR … and the proverbial “dagger” was thrown in the fourth quarter to handily win the game.

Yes … nearly normal is just fine for now. Have a beer and a cheese curd!

——

NURSING HOMES

The usual senior living activity calendars and senior center menus will not be published this week in an effort to avoid confusion. Due to the coronavirus and the vulnerability of the elderly population, daily life in the senior living facilities and senior centers has changed dramatically.

All living facilities have closed their doors to public visitation, and the activity calendars have been modified to allow for one-to-one room visits only and individualized activities to keep residents engaged and active as much as possible while remaining within the health and safety guidelines provided by state health experts.

Group games are being substituted with individualized activities residents can do in their respective rooms. Staff are providing supplies as well as “overhead announcement bingo and trivia” games and “hallway games” that can be played in individual rooms or by sitting within individual room doorways.

YouTube and DVDs are being utilized to provide religious services. A big dose of gratitude and appreciation goes out to all senior care staff for their creativity, caring and perseverance through a difficult situation.

All senior centers also have been closed to any center-based activity. Until they re-open, no information is being published that talks about activities typically available at these centers. While some have reopened with limited seating, meals do continue to be delivered.

Some centers also are preparing meals to be picked up. Menus are printed below for those centers who are either preparing takeout or providing home-delivered meals. Questions can be directed to the individual centers at the numbers listed here.

SENIOR CENTERS

Alpha-Mastodon Center

906-875-3315

Amasa Center

906-822-7284

The Amasa Center is a curbside pick-up-only kitchen for now. Call ahead for Tuesdays through Thursdays. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Spaghetti, green beans, garlic bread, lettuce salad

Wednesday: Smoked sausage, mashed potatoes, corn

Thursday: Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, cranberries

Breen Center

906-774-5110

Now open with limited seating from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday: Menu for the week —

Monday: Cheeseburger, potato wedges, baked beans

Tuesday: Smoked sausage, potatoes, baked beans

Wednesday: Ham and scalloped potatoes, mixed vegetables

Thursday: Scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, pancakes, biscuits and gravy

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen

906-875-6709

Crystal Lake Center

Iron Mountain

906-239-0278

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Smothered chicken, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables

Tuesday: French toast, sausage, spiced pears

Wednesday: Salisbury steak, rice, cauliflower

Thursday: Chicken pot pie, biscuit, applesauce

Friday: Tuna salad sandwich, coleslaw, string cheese

For more information, call Christine McMahon at 906-774-2256.

Felch Center

906-246-3559

Now open with limited seating from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Menu for the week —

Monday: Barbecue beef, potato chips, coleslaw

Tuesday: Cheesy potato stew, California blend vegetables, cheddar biscuit

Wednesday: Turkey Swiss wrap, three-bean salad, chips

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.

715-528-4890

Director: Tiffany White

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Cabbage roll casserole, broccoli Normandy, fruit

Tuesday: Chicken corn chowder, egg salad on croissant with lettuce and tomato, fruit cup

Wednesday: Hot pork sandwich, mashed potatoes, squash, fruit, apple pie bars

Thursday: Homemade pizza, three-bean salad, Mandarin fluff dessert

Friday: Italian chicken, black beans and rice, carrots, fruit

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980

For meal reservations, call 855-528-2372

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-528-4261

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Tipler Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-674-2320

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

For meal reservations, call 715-589-4491

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska

906-498-7735

Iron River Center

906-265-6134

Now open with limited seating 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Home-delivered and/or takeout only on Thursdays. Menu for week —

Monday: Taco salad, cottage cheese

Tuesday: Salisbury steak, cheesy hash browns, carrots

Wednesday: Turkey wrap, chips

Thursday: Scalloped potatoes, ham, corn, dinner roll

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251-4154

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining

906-563-8716

The center will remain closed; however, takeout meals will be prepared for pick up – must call ahead and wear a mask when picking up. Menu for the week —

Monday: Ravioli, Italian vegetables, garlic bread, fruit, juice, milk, dessert

Tuesday: Barbecue pork sandwich, sour cream and chive potato wedges, fruit, juice, milk, dessert

Wednesday: Biscuit and gravy, peas, baked potato, fruit, juice, milk, dessert

Thursday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, squash, fruit, juice, milk, dessert

Sagola Center

906-542-3273

Now open with limited seating from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Stuffed shells, green beans, garlic bread, apricots

Wednesday: Chicken stir fry, rice, carrots, Mandarin oranges

Thursday: Hamburgers, roasted potatoes, baked beans, pears.

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