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Seniors finding ways to keep busy during COVID-19 pandemic

'We’re finding that the house is getting a little small and a little claustrophobic, but it’s nothing we can’t deal with'
03-31-2020 IM active seniors
Barrie-area residents Barb and Rick Herron, married for almost 60 years, walk their dog Zoey and continue to keep active during the current coronavirus pandemic. Ian McInroy for BarrieToday

Staying home and managing to keep healthy and busy are top-of-mind challenges during these trying times of the coronavirus pandemic.

But facing those challenges head-on is even more vital for those most susceptible to COVID-19, including seniors.

Staying home is recommended — for all age groups — but what you do at home, and what you do to get some fresh air and exercise when you can, may perhaps minimize a stressful scenario.

Enter the pooch: best excuse ever to get out for a walk.

While there are still distancing requirements when walking a trail with man’s best friend, there is no better way to seek fresh air and say hello to fellow humans — at a safe distance.

“The dog needs exercise and she helps us go walk,” says Barrie-area resident Barb Herron, who, along with husband Rick, walks their Yorkshire terrier every day.

About the only thing to get between the Herrons after a 58-year marriage is their dog, Zoey, as she wanders between them during a traipse through their neighbourhood.

“More and more people want to adopt dogs,” Rick suggests. “They offer companionship. They get people to go out and not be quite as isolated as they might be. If they had a little furry friend with them, it might make life a little easier.”

But canines aren’t a cure-all; there is still life at home.

“We’re both doing fine; we’re both healthy,” says Rick. “We’re finding that the house is getting a little small and a little claustrophobic, but it’s nothing we can’t deal with. We try not to watch too much news, maybe two or three times — maximum —  a day. I was a bit of a news junky before and I have to discipline myself not to watch it.

“But other than that, we’re doing just fine.”

Keeping busy is key, says Barb.

“I go for walks. We play cribbage. We read, watch television, do exercises,” she says.

“I do projects,” adds Rick. “I scraped all the popcorn (drywall) off the ceiling in one part of the house. I painted the ceiling and all the upstairs. I never get bored. I’ve always got something going on (he was vacuuming when this reporter called) and Barb does, too.”

Their at-home food situation is good, he adds.

“There is only the two of us and we have a pantry that is always stocked. Typically, we have three weeks, or maybe four weeks, of nonperishable food on hand. Barb goes out once a week to get some perishable goods and we have a bread maker to make our own bread.”

His wife says she’s “not really nervous” about going out to the grocery store.

“We are taking precautions. I always sanitize before going into the store and when I come out. At the grocery store you have be six feet behind other people and try to stay away from them. They have taped lines that you stand behind.”

While Rick may ponder the current world state of affairs, at this time of year the avid golfer normally has other things on his mind: hitting the links.

“Golf has gone from one of my top priorities to maybe the bottom. There is a slim chance I might get out this year but it’s kind of taken a back seat now,” he says.

“My concern would be that our health facilities are overwhelmed if we get a spike and they run out of ventilators and all the gear that the health care workers are supposed to have. That would probably be the worse case scenario.

“Our family is safe and this pandemic forces families and friends to bond, spending time with their kids, whether it’s over the phone or with a computer. Anything is better than just sitting in a house thinking about the bad stuff.”