We are quickly approaching Rosh Hashanah, the start of the New Year for those of us of the Jewish faith. Following Rosh Hashanah, we observe the “ten days of awe” before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is traditionally a time for us to reexamine our lives, to seek forgiveness for those we may have wronged, to reflect upon the year ending and our plans and hopes and intentions for the year ahead.
Of course, for many of us this is a time of purely personal, internal assessment. I also like to take this time and think about both the challenges and the opportunities of the year ahead in the context of the work that we do with older adults and, in some ways, the world in general.
I hope that, in the coming year, we can get beyond some of the trauma that COVID-19 has brought to our lives. For those of us in elder care, I hope that we can forgive and move past the decisions that were so difficult and painful for our elders and ourselves, letting go of our frustration and anger at how older adults were treated and letting go of the regret for the ways in which the “COVID lockdown” negatively impacted their lives. Older adults were marginalized and their lives diminished by a well-intentioned, but misguided, effort to “save them,” without allowing them choices or voices, without realizing that quality of life is equal to, or more important, than safety. It is time for us to let that go but to recommit to ensuring that it never happens to our elders again.
I pray that I, and many of my colleagues, can come to peace with the anger that the negative portrayals of long term care in the media provoked. We are still paying the price for these terrible stories and the sensationalism that made it seem, falsely, that all nursing homes were, and are, the same. In many venues, from government regulation to public opinion, those organizations who exist purely to provide care, and do so with commitment and passion, are seen as the same as those terrible places who failed to protect, treat and heal those whose lives were entrusted to them. May we continue to find the strength to tell our stories and set the record straight.
I hope and pray that we can help alleviate the pressure and exhaustion that caregivers feel after more than two years of COVID. The workforce has shrunk, the demands have continued to increase and, as we often say, people are “tired of being tired.” May this be the year that we find real ways to renew, refresh and re-energize all those who provide care and help them find ways to care for themselves.
As well, I long for a return to kindness and courtesy and patience for all. Everywhere we turn, personally and professionally, the world seems filled with impatience and demands and dissatisfaction. May we all find ways to remember that everyone is “doing the best they can.” May we all find ways to honor one another as human beings and remember the fragility and uniqueness of each life.
May this be, for all of us, a year of peace and blessing, kindness and joy.