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An Unsettling Glimpse into Senior Care

Published: Jan. 22, 2021


Dear Friends:

I live in the Horizon House Continuing Care Retirement Community in Seattle, WA. Before the pandemic, the attendance in our Horizon House Worship Group averaged more than two dozen. Now it is usually six or eight who are still meeting in person, six feet apart, in good spirit.

We all live in close proximity in Horizon House. But the COVID restrictions, state and local, plus our administration’s decision to conduct a variety of rehab, redesign, and reconstruction projects during the COVID period, have made it nigh impossible for us to see each other, much less interact, much less talk at length about important matters and share our lives. (Note that our dining room is closed, likewise our library, likewise other functional and social rooms.) Our whole social scene has (pardon the word) deadened, and most of us are exhausted from isolation and the rapid passage of time. We’ve had death at the usual rate, but we don’t know who is approaching death, or who has died, until we see their face on the Memorial Board.

Further, many – I would say most – of the residents have learned a new habit: Be Cautious In All Things. It’s almost as though our theme song is titled, “Fear First!” I could list a whole array of how Caution and Fear have inhibited human contact here, and discouraged group behavior. I doubt that Horizon House residents will feel safe about getting together for quite a long time. It will be difficult to do anyway, because the construction projects will continue to be delayed. Nothing will follow logically or smoothly from one phase to another.

One piece of very good news: We have had the first of the two rounds of virus inoculations. When that happened, Wow! – we encountered, for most of two days, a lot of people whom we had not seen for ten months. It was a fabulous human moment.

I hope this note contributes to the bundle of experiences that Friends are hearing about.

from Paul Niebanck, Horizon House Worship Group (1/17/2021)