COPD and COVID-19: A View from Florida’s Retirement Communities

Posted on April 18, 2020   |   

This article was written by Pam DeNardo, a COPD patient advocate and part of our COPD Foundation team. If you are interested in sharing your stories about living with COPD during the COVID-19 pandemic, please email us at [email protected]

I am a semi-retired single woman living in a 55 and over retirement community of over one thousand units in a village like setting in Fort Myers, Florida. The social activities here are many and well attended. Golf Course, six pools, tennis courts and gym to name a few. We even have our own restaurant. So, you can imagine it’s pretty lively here. Until recently. I look out my windows now and see no one. In the early mornings and just before the sun goes down you will see people walking and keeping safe distances. It’s a little comical as everyone wants to talk but they have to holler at each other in order to be heard.

Usually at this time of year the snowbirds leave, and the community slows down. This year however, the northerners don’t want to go home. Especially if they come from a “hot spot”. Now that Florida’s numbers are climbing that may change.

As a COPD patient of 20 years I am pretty resilient and I am used to some isolation. And working with the COPD community I have been pretty much oblivious of how others with different physical problems cope. Since the pandemic I have seen some incredible acts of humanity and kindness and am amazed at how we can make this work socially. On my birthday some of my neighbors put a cake by my front door and sang happy birthday from the street. I will be in the next group for the next birthday.

I have had to adjust how I shop. Drug stores are no problem as I order online (or doc calls it in) they tell me when to pick up and I use drive up. Grocery stores are a little more difficult. At first, I tried to shop in person as usual. Waiting to get in, trying to keep 6 feet of distance, (especially while others were not), wiping things down before I picked them up, checking out and finally going home only to have to wipe everything down again before putting away. I found all this exhausting and needed a nap.

So, I gave in and tried the delivery services that are available around here. There is a fee, of course, and you must order online which is not as interesting as being in the store, (you do spend less this way as you are not tempted). You can put all your items on a credit or debit card including the tip and the delivery person leaves it outside my door and gives me a call to tell me he/she has delivered. Now if I can find someone who will come in and cook on occasion, in a hazmat suit of course, I can become a complete vegetable.

As horrible as COVID-19 is, and it is definitely horrible, here are some tips on how I am coping. Don’t watch too much news. If you watch TV try the lighthearted programs or comedies. Keep in touch with your friends and family. They might also feel isolated. Try new recipes, new hobbies and keep a schedule.

I am not Pollyanna, but we are tough COPD patients. We can do this. See you on the other side.


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