Seniors in Winter

A photograph of my mother standing proudly in a down jacket and furry boots, shovel in hand, on a cleared sidewalk in front of a six-foot snow pile testifies to the endurance of a 40-year-old woman during the “Big Snow of ‘66” in Illinois.

Our mountain seniors display this kind of courage and endurance every winter up here.  Most have developed techniques to stay almost upright in the sideways winds and ways to get out of their homes and driveways in deep snows.  Even mountainfolk are stunned that we rarely cancel a senior lunch because the 70- and 80-year-olds will find a way to get there.  We fifty-somethings who serve them work hard to deserve the honor and keep up with them.

That said, mountain seniors could still use a helping hand sometimes. One thing that gets more tough over the years is shoveling. Some can hire a plow to clear their drive, but have no one to hand-shovel the walkway to get to it.  We are placing here a public plea for anyone reliable who is available for hire – or for lower-income folks, maybe a volunteer – to clear walkways after a snowstorm. Please contact us at the phone number at the bottom of this column and we will refer business when seniors ask for help.

Some of us hesitate to call our neighbors, afraid we might bother them.  Please, if you have older neighbors or folks of any age who live alone near you, please check in with them regularly throughout the winter.  They may feel they can’t bother you, either, as you run around busy with all the activities that take you out and about.  It takes an entire community to keep us all going.  We should never assume that because a person has grown children or grandchildren living in proximity, their family will care for them.  Sometimes family members are busy with work and child commitments that make it impossible for them to care for the aging parent or neighbor living alone.

Recently, I was hit with one of the bronchial flu types of setbacks that is going around.  It was during what is typically the busiest week of the year for Nederland Area Seniors (and for me, personally), as we prepared for the Holiday Mountain Market.  While staying at home alone for an entire week, many helped care for me.   The seniors sent well wishes on a card circulated at lunch.  Our president carried to me the gifts from a girlfriend sending homemade soup and my colleague’s fresh, local osha root extract.

Neighbors emailed or called with offers to purchase any groceries I might need.  A friend offered to drive me to my Boulder doctor and when I refused to change altitude or travel so far in the cold while sick, encouraged me to let her take me to visit our local mountain doctor or acupuncturist. Others called daily to ensure I was OK and check on my needs.  I felt truly loved and part of our community.  Thank you, everyone!

Those who have faced serious illness or challenges up here tell us they have been similarly swarmed with wonderful offers of help or hugs. But many with short-term illnesses languish at home alone with no one checking in with them or bringing them soup.  Maybe a neighbor is physically capable but a little depressed or lonely. Please think of them as you plan your holidays to see where you might include them in an invitation.  Let’s share our mountain support systems with everyone by reaching out to neighbors who may be in need.  We independent mountain types may refuse help much of the time, but are most grateful when it is offered – and sometimes we really do need you.

Everyone is invited to the Nederland Area Seniors luncheon at the Nederland Community Center at noon.  A donation of $4 is requested from those over 60 years of age and $8.25 all others, but no seniors are turned away due to inability to pay.  Please make reservations by 4 p.m. Friday for Monday lunch and 4 p.m. Monday for Wednesday lunch at 303-258-0799.

Monday, December 16:  Sunshine Egg Bake w/Vegetables/Cheese, Oven Fried Potatoes/Blueberry Muffin, Citrus Cup
Wednesday, December 18:  Beef & Bean Burrito, Mixed Greens Salad, Strawberry/Banana

Serene Karplus

About the Author: Serene Karplus – is the Executive Director of the Nederland Area Seniors, Inc. (NAS) which assists senior citizens in enhancing their quality of life, enabling them to live a life of respect and honor.  This is accomplished through the facilitation of nutrition, transportation, education, recreation, socialization and outreach programs for all seniors living in the Greater Nederland Area. Serene is a contributor to The Mountain-Ear with her Senior Scene column.