The “COVIDITIZING” of Later Behavior
The “COVIDITIZING” of Later Behavior
L. T. Force, Ph.D., Gerontologist
We are now living in the world of COVID-19....a Coronavirus. In this world, there are new rules and new mannerisms associated with the rituals of: “social engagement”....it is a new universe today for all of us. What once was considered to be the: “normal rhythm of our day”, i.e., going to work, going to school, going to church, going to the stores/malls, going to sporting events.....going to ____________ (you fill-in the blank) has now changed. The idea of assembly, the idea of engaging each other with handshakes, hugs and ‘kisses on the cheek’....mannerisms of ‘meeting and greeting and mutual exchange’ - have been altered....and have generated a lasting imprint.
Are there lessons here that will impact us and shape our behaviors throughout our lives.... `The answer is: “Yes, for sure!” This coronavirus has now been embedded into our thoughts....our actions.....and our behaviors - that will influence new strategies for engagement - we all now have been: “COVIDITIZED”.
From a lifespan perspective, there are events that occur in our early years - that have an influence on us - later in life - both negative and positive. I remember in my graduate studies - being introduced to the work of Glen Elders. Dr. Elders studied individuals who lived through the “Great Depression” - specifically children. From an overview perspective, his findings indicated - people who experienced loss during the “Great Depression” were better able to adjust to the losses associated with the latter stages of life....in fact, better able to adapt to the losses of aging. Specially, in his book: Children Of The Great Depression by Glen H. Elder, Jr. (1974): “the story is one of resilience and coping, of boys and girls who, if they could not quite master fate, could meet it resourcefully.”
These findings provide an interesting parallel to the current events of today.
During this pandemic - we have developed new and innovative; “remote behaviors”.... whether it be in: how we work, how we learn or how we gather. The one theme, percolating to the surface - and into our discussions - has been the concern of: “social isolation”. “Social isolation” is a major factor in the field and practice of gerontology. “Social isolation”, in the latter half of life, can turn into its own behavior pattern - if left unchecked. Presently, we are seeing an acceleration of events - driving behaviors of: “social isolation”. Today, regardless of age, we hear these concerns of: “social isolation” across the lifespan - as they relate to the increase in: the rise of addictions, the increase in abusive patterns (including self-abuse) and the overarching concern about the detrimental impact of loneliness - during this pandemic.
However, have these times also provided us: “testing grounds”....providing us opportunities to learn new innovative strategies, new approaches and new techniques - about how to address “social isolation”? Are we now learning new ways that will build resiliency - including the integration of technology - allowing us to become more adaptive and creative and resilient - as we meet these concerns of the pandemic and the concerns of the latter half of life? Are there lessons we can learn from - knowing the integration of: “purpose and meaning” can assist in combatting the wrath of: “social isolation”? Are the present days of “being remote and socially isolated” - providing us opportunities and strategies that we will take into the latter half of our life - as strengths? I think so....
Yes, we have been: “COVIDITIZED!” And just like those: “children of the Great Depression” - we build upon what we have witnessed....and what we have learned.....and we pray....and we never forget....as we move these lessons forward....