For those of us who work with older adults, the last two years have been filled with challenges. We battled a virus we knew nothing about, that spread in ways no one understood and we did it with almost no support, little information and scarce resources. When vaccines appeared on the horizon, just a year ago, many of us could scarcely contain our excitement. This pandemic was coming to an end and we were so ready to celebrate that fact and move past it.
Of course, we know now that COVID had other plans and that we have not yet seen an end to the pandemic, not yet seen an end to this virus’s destructive path worldwide. The latest data indicate that another surge is likely and yesterday the Commissioner of Health for the State of New Jersey warned, in a webinar, that they anticipate another “April 2020” level of virus as we begin 2022.
How often we have heard the phrase “It is a marathon, not a sprint” and, in this case especially, the words ring all too true. In our organization, as in many others, we have pushed hard to have everyone vaccinated and boostered. In fact, we were the first elder care organization in the State of New Jersey to mandate vaccines, including boosters. We know that vaccine saves lives and that is our primary objective. What we also know is that vaccine does not prevent COVID. The virus can still make its presence known but vaccine can dramatically lessen the severity and change the outcome.
We all had hoped that this was over. We all hoped that there was an end in sight. At this juncture, we don’t know where the endpoint is or when. But what we do know is that our elder care providers are in this for the long haul. Our staff and leadership are ready to face whatever challenges lie ahead and this time we are better prepared on every front—from information to resources.
Resilience has been our word for many months now, coming back from what transpired in 2020 and from those dark days, for us the month of April 2020, which I continue to refer to as “the five year long month of April.” We have come back, we have built back and we are, as an organization and as elder care providers, stronger than ever. The watchword for us now, I think, is endurance. We will hold fast and withstand whatever comes our way. We will do it with our eyes wide open, our hands reaching to help and our hearts, as always, devoted to the elders that we serve.