Jody Moss - "Seniors Sunset Times - Clallam County Edition

Not this Again – Dealing with This Endless, Relentlessness Pandemic

December 8, 2021

By Jody Moss, Olympic Area Agency on Aging

Have you been acting like the pandemic is over? Meeting and socializing with friends without determining their vaccination status and/or evaluating their personal practices in terms of pandemic safety? Ready to get back to normal?

Well, hang on to your seat…it’s going to be a bumpy ride! Here comes the indoor winter experience again and presenting us with a new variant that sounds pretty scary.

We are entering a second winter with this new, as yet unknown Omicron variant. As of the writing of this article, the Delta variant is the predominant one in the US right now with 100,000 new infections every day and hospital beds filling up again, and according to the National Institute of Health we are seeing about 1,000 deaths a day from COVID-19.

Relax. We got this. Wear a mask, even two when you are in public. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or two rounds of singing Happy Birthday. If you can’t wash your hands use hand sanitizer when you get back to your car from shopping. Maintain social distance of 6 feet. Socialize with people who have been vaccinated.

And get vaccinated or get the booster vaccine. This one strategy is crucial. Talk to your doctor if you have a condition or are afraid of needles. You can be monitored closely, and your provider may be able to provide you with a medication to help you overcome needle fear long enough to get a vaccine. There are almost no reasons for not getting the vaccine and few significant side effects nationwide.

This had been one of the most spectacularly successful vaccine stories written. The people who are seriously ill and dying from COVID-19 are mostly unvaccinated.

Please, please , PULEEZE do not get caught up in the political conversations about the vaccine! Stop searching the internet for advice from people with motives other than your well-being. Did you know that some people spreading conspiracy information to people in the US are from other countries trying to weaken the US? Both China and Russia are delivering much of the vaccine disinformation on the internet.

Did you know that some people spreading antivaxx disinformation have monetized the antivaxx conversation and are paid for this negative marketing? They make money by encouraging use of supplements or books, and are paid by advertisers, or they use crowd funding “to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” according to an August 2021 article from, “The Lucrative Business of Stoking Vaccine Skepticism.”

Instead, believe in science and what most medical professionals agree. That the pandemic is real, and the vaccines work. One positive is the percentage of people over 65 getting vaccines – 99.7% in Clallam and 90.9% in Jefferson counties.

Here is sobering news…A study in Washington state gathered data from over 4 million fully vaccinated people. The data showed a rate of about 1 in 5,000 experienced a breakthrough infection between January 17 and August 21, 2021. More recently, some populations have shown breakthrough infection
rates of approximately 1 in 100 fully vaccinated people. This increase in numbers from 1 in 5,000 to 1 in 100, is related to the Delta variant being more infectious, and the decreased effectiveness of vaccines over time – thus the recommendation to get a booster shot.

Side bar – we have a taxi service in Jefferson and Pacific counties to drive anyone, any age, in need to a vaccine appointment or booster. Unfortunately, we have been unable to identify a similar service in Clallam or Grays Harbor with whom we are able to develop a contract. We do have volunteer transportation services available that can help you if you are 60 or older and allow enough advance warning so they can get you a volunteer driver. Call our offices (numbers listed at the end of the article) for help getting a vaccine or booster appointment or for arranging a ride.)

So, are you depressed yet?

In September 2020 research completed by a Brown University researcher found that depression has increased 3 fold and that at that time one quarter of the people were experiencing depression. This impacts people who have lower incomes even more. And the mental health toll is even greater than any previous mass trauma like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina.

Traumas like this include the ongoing anxiety and fear, grief over the loss of loved ones as well as economic fallout.

It is hard to get over this like one would a traumatic event that is one and done. We can’t seem to establish a return to normalcy. This just seems to go on forever.

In fact, as I jump into retirement next month, I have been thinking that it may go on forever. I am relabeling what is “normal.”

It’s normal to wear a mask in public always. Its normal to wash my hands often and to use hand sanitizer when I get back in the car. It’s normal only socialize with people who are vaccinated and/or to ask friends and family to get rapid tests and to test twice, 3 days apart before a big event. It’s normal to have a vaccine card and I am proud of that thing!

Other things that I can do as time moves on (reads like my New Year’s resolutions every year), according to the CDC:
• Eat a healthy diet – well duh!
• Get plenty of sleep – again duh!
• Exercise regularly to reduce stress and anxiety – another duh! – but better schedule it into your routine.
• Establish a routine and stick to it.
• Avoid drugs and alcohol (not actually on my resolution list but also not one of the issues I cope with)
• Identify fun activities you can do each day or each week so you have something you can look forward to.

Here are 20 ideas from Healthline for helping address depression.
1. Meet yourself where you are – be accepting of your depression – it is common and not a failing. Behaving lovingly towards yourself.
2. If you need to wallow, wallow — but do so constructively and don’t stay there. Consider writing or journaling about positive and negative feelings.
3. Know that today isn’t indicative of tomorrow.
4. Assess the parts instead of generalizing the whole. Depression can tinge recollections with negative emotions. You may find yourself focusing on the one thing that went wrong instead of the many things that went right. If it helps, write down what was happy about the event or day. Then write down what went wrong.
5. Do the opposite of what the ‘depression voice’ suggests.
6. Set attainable goals.

  • Don’t clean the house; do take the trash out.
  • Don’t do all the laundry that’s piled up; just sort the piles by color.
  • Don’t clear out your entire email inbox; just address any time-sensitive messages.

7. Reward your efforts – think of healthy ways to reward yourself. Take a warm bath with candles all around the tub, sit down to read a good book, find a rock and paint it then hide it, have a dance party for one.
8. You may find it helpful to create a routine.
9. Do something you enjoy…Try to push back and do something you love — something that’s relaxing but energizing, like playing an instrument, painting, hiking, or biking.
10. …Like listening to music – proven to help your mood.
11. …Or spend time in nature – Mother Nature can have a powerful influence on depression. Exposure to sunlight may offer some of the same benefits. It can increase your serotonin levels, which can provide a temporary mood boost.
12. Find ways that are safe to visit with loved ones or create a safe bubble of a few vaccinated people that you can meet with regularly.
13. Try something new entirely.
14. …Like Volunteering.

    • Become a volunteer driver with one of our agencies, Volunteer Services in Clallam (360-417-5640) and ECHHO in Jefferson (360-379-3246) or home delivered meal driver for OlyCAP 360-452-4726 or 360-385-2571.
    • Volunteer as a Long Term Care Ombudsman with our agency – 360-538-8877
    • Volunteer to become a Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisor – 360-417-8555.

14. Practice daily gratitude. List all the things you are grateful for.
15. Incorporating meditation may help ground your thoughts.
16. What you eat and drink can also affect how you feel. Eating a diet rich in lean meats, vegetables, and grains may be a great place to start. Try to limit stimulants like caffeine, coffee, and soda, and depressants like alcohol. Avoid sugar.
17. If you’re up for exercise, consider a walk around the block.
18. Getting enough sleep can also have a noticeable effect.
19. Consider clinical treatment through your doctor, or massage, or acupuncture.

Remember, this may go on for some time, even for years, and so will you. Be mindful of your emotional wellbeing and you will be a happier, healthier human being.

Jody Moss is the Director of Contracts Management & Planning for the Olympic Area Agency on Aging and can be reached at 360-379-5064. For help with senior or adults with disability questions call Information and Assistance at 360-452-3221 in Clallam and 360-385-2552 in Jefferson, 360-532-0520 in Grays Harbor, 360-942-2177 in north Pacific County and 360-642-3634 in south Pacific County.