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Connecting and coping in the age of coronavirus

By Ruth Bernstein, Consumer Advocate

Originally published in the March-April, 2020 issue of News & Views, the bimonthly publication of the Hearing Loss Association of America, New York City Chapter

Like almost everyone else, I have been home since early March. I follow

Governor Cuomo’s Matilda’s Law and Dr. Fauci’s instructions carefully, because, at 86, I’m in the high-risk group. My neighbors shop for me and pick up my mail. The Rabbi of my synagogue arranged for one of the congregants to do my Passover shopping. I am extraordinarily lucky because I have a terrace, which allows me to walk outside whenever the weather is good. Until recently, I followed a path that includes the terrace, living room, dining room and kitchen and walk 30 to 40 minutes every day. My Apple Watch tells me I’m walking about a mile and a half, which, given the circumstances, I am satisfied with. Now that we are all wearing masks, I feel safer and walk around the periphery of my complex and in our gardens, a distance of one-and-a-half miles or more, depending on the path I follow.

Although I’ve lived alone since 1976 and enjoy the pleasure of my own company, I am finding social distancing really hard. I miss seeing my family and friends, my daily routine, going to classes, volunteering at the Metropolitan Museum, attending meetings and all the mundane errands that go into a normal life. Most of all I miss the physical touch of another human being. While social distancing keeps me at home, here are some resources that help me cope during the crisis and stay connected to the world and the people I love.

Resources that help me cope

Katherine Bouton, the HLAA-NYC Chapter President, writes about how to manage in her blog, Hear Better with Hearing Loss:

I’m taking a crash course in using Zoom and other technologies to stay connected. The Center for Hearing and Communication provides technological information in the latest newsletter:

My days are filled with Zoom meetings and classes, including weekly audio therapy sessions at CHC, the “Six-Hour Art Major” and a daily class with Rabbi Brian in Portland, Oregon, which ended on April 10th. Click here to view the captioned sessions.

When we were told to stay home, I decided to become the HLAA-NYC Chapter Board’s Town Crier and write a newsletter, sharing links which are useful, entertaining and enjoyable, so we can all stay connected. Here are a few of them:

Recommendations of this town crier

A Kids’ Guide to Coronavirus, from The New York Times, offers an explanation of the coronavirus written for kids and definitely worth reading by adults.

As a member of the Museum Access Consortium Steering Committee, I contributed to a very special At-Home Activities web page that allows people to visit many of the NYC museums and find interesting activities for the whole family. New information is added often.

Two travel links I really enjoy:

Instead of singing Happy Birthday again and again while you wash your hands, try Row, Row, Row Your Boat; Twinkle,Twinkle Little Star; or any other lyrics that take twenty seconds. Variety is the spice of life!

Governor Cuomo announced we will be home until May 15th. I hope you will spend some of that time on the web, where the new burst of creativity is astonishing and heartwarming. Enjoy the myriad of activities you are interested in or learn something new. You can dance, sing, paint, play an instrument, go to theater, concerts and movies, exercise, visit other countries and read books. We are fortunate to be living in a Golden Age of communication. If you need technical help, check the HLAA-NYC Resource Page or reach out to the staff at the Center of Hearing and Communication, your relatives or younger people who are technically savvy.

Finally, I recommend Governor Cuomo’s daily email briefing in which he describes what is happening in New York City and State. Each communication ends with “A Deep Breath Moment,” always a special treat. Sign up to stay informed and end your day on an upbeat note: .

Contact us at HLAA-NYC to share your coping and communication experiences.

Stay healthy, safe and happy. As the Governor says, “Ever Upward!”

Ruth Bernstein Consumer Advocate

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