By Theresa Pichelmeyer, EdD, RN, President & CEO of Valley VNA Senior Care

Because our team at Valley VNA works on behalf of seniors and their families, we have been struck with how many of the old ways from the old days have reappeared in our lives over the past year. To be honest, we aren’t ready to give them back to the history books. We are turning the page to a fresh new calendar, and there is a renewed sense of hope in the air. Here are some of the discoveries we plan to hold dear in the new year:

Getting Out and About—Drive-in movies returned to many communities over the past year, and the idea of a leisurely Sunday (or any day) drive has made a happy reappearance, with the added bonus of drive-through ice cream treats. We’ve all learned how to make video calls, and just think how that used to sound so daunting! Some of our residents have even gotten video tours of their grandchildren’s dorm rooms, a special treat they would not have otherwise experienced.

The Nature of Things—If you tried to buy a bicycle or kayak in the past year, you understand that lots of other people also turned to nature for recreation and serenity. There is nothing like floating down a river and eyeing turtles on a sunny log. Those turtles, and their woodland neighbors, carry on in the midst of other worldly concerns. It feels good to connect to this continuity and calm. Many of our residents remember long days at the lake or at grandma’s farm, working and playing outside until dinnertime. Fresh air never gets old.

Good Mail—It’s the opposite of “junk mail!” The letters, cards, art projects, and small gifts that were sent amongst family members in the past year have been amazing. New pen pal relationships have flourished and young people have learned the art of letter-writing with their grandparents and other special friends. We love seeing our residents send and receive “good mail” because it brings back memories of the postman’s deliveries from days gone by. These messages with their cursive handwriting and pretty stamps will be saved for years to come.

Visiting Made Easy—True, it hasn’t always been easy to visit one another in person. But did you notice how some of the new visiting rules were actually kind of liberating? Perhaps you’ve had a friend over for coffee—on the front porch, socially distanced, and they bring their own mug? Or held a small gathering in the backyard around the fire pit, each chair adorned with its own mismatched cozy blanket? In the beforetimes, you may have felt obligated to clean your entire house! We realized it’s time spent together that matters. Let’s never lose sight of how much a short visit cheers the people we love, especially seniors.

Hold onto the lessons we’ve learned in the past year and continue to value the humanity of each person. Here’s to hope and health in 2021.