What a year. We knew back in January 2021 that the coming months would test our resilience, and we steeled ourselves to the challenge. But many of us didn’t realize that we’d be exploring resilience for so long.
On several occasions, we thought we were nearly done with our public health ordeal. Then along came another wave, and another. As a result, we’ve grown. We’ve learned that resilience is more than bracing for what’s about to come. It’s also coping with what you cannot anticipate – the fluid, the counterintuitive, and the utterly unpredictable.
True resilience tolerates loss of control. In place of control we put mindfulness, support from loved ones, and acceptance of the inevitable. And though plans reduce uncertainty, even the best laid ones may need to be adjusted. Since we’ve experienced a lot of surprises in our rich and eventful lives, this lesson came more easily to us, perhaps, than to younger people.
We grew in many ways
In addition to growing spiritually in 2021, we in the Kendal at Home community have grown our programs. Faced with a protracted lockdown, we adapted. Led by Quaker values, we found alternative ways of being together through our expanded virtual programming and course offerings (with generous assistance from the Friends Foundation for the Aging).
Virtual events like Movement Mondays and Coffee Hours allow us to exercise, learn, and laugh together, and reinforce one another’s ability to thrive. These sessions honor our members’ passions and inspire others to engage and give back.
Also this past year, we saw the need to expand our aging-in-place services beyond our home base of greater Cleveland and into Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo, and Massachusetts. We expanded care management staff to accommodate growing membership in most regions.
The experience advantage
We were resilient, and it’s no wonder that we seniors are good at it. “Resilience is a set of skills that one develops,” psychiatrist Dr. Steven Southwick told the New York Times. “And virtually anyone can learn to be more resilient.”
We’ve all had a lot of practice. Throughout unpredictable lives in education, career, and family, we have generally cultivated resilience in prodigious amounts. We are already tapping into our reserves as we embark on post-retirement “second acts” in business, the arts, volunteerism, study, and other passions.
All the while, we appreciate having Kendal at Home as part of our formula for resilience. It’s a solid plan, yet one that can be adapted as necessary. Whatever life may bring in later years, one’s health care is anticipated, covered, and managed.
As 2021 draws to a close, we’re a little wiser. And we are grateful to be able to spend this time of year with our loved ones, albeit carefully. And in a few days, when 2022 dawns, we’ll be confident that better days are ahead. There will still be surprises.
May yours be happy ones.