How are some boomers dealing with coronavirus-forced isolation?

We’re all in a new normal, thanks to coronavirus. But we might be living it in different ways. Baby boomer Pat O’Donnell, who lives in the Kansas City suburb of Olathe, has been checking on some of his boomer friends to see how they’re handling all this.

Well, here we are hunkered down and trying to stay free of Covid-19. It’s only been a few days, really, and some of us are still trying to learn how to cope with this new reality.

One can only spend so much time exercising on the resistance bands, checking email, or doing a puzzle. Watching the daily briefings from the White House only makes my blood boil. Just give me the facts and leave the staged fawning in the Oval Office.

Let the experts talk.

Many of us have been given strict orders from our adult children that we are not to venture out. If we need anything, they will get it for us. Despite that, my wife has taken to going out for a drive. Fifteen minutes in the car and she’s back, willing to face more cabin fever and watch HGTV reruns.

I’ve asked friends of our generation how they are coping. One of the first to respond says she prefers the word “sequestered” rather than “quarantined.”

Almost everyone says they are spending more time online checking on family and friends. Most are checking the latest news and also checking for resources. Some are playing online card games with friends. One bachelor friend who lives in the Beltway of Washington DC reports he is cleaning out one closet or shelf per day and emphasizes that this is not his regular routine.

Another friend who lives in Colorado says, “I just might try tying flies, tried it several times over the years but never followed thru.” I’m not sure I believe him as I know he’s been an avid fly fisherman already.

A retired minister reports he is doing a lot of the cooking, and he loves it. He also says he is waiting for the next shipment of wine. Like many of us, he is partnering with his spouse on the household chores. He mentions online book clubs; his has over 1,800 members. His biggest fear is for his daughter in Seattle, the heart of coronavirus country, who is six months pregnant with her first child.

Another tells me he misses his “volunteer gigs,” his Rotary meeting is canceled, his gym is closed, and cooking for one doesn’t take much time. He says his dad used to tell him, “It costs money every time you leave the house,” so the good news is, when this is all over, he should have lots saved up.

Many of my friends are still working, and they are facing other challenges. One in Florida is trying to transition her 35 employees to “telework.” While another runs a successful maintenance company, her clients want hospital-grade disinfecting at their facilities. Her employees are scared, and trying to keep them motivated is a priority.

A grandmother in Northern Kentucky has a regular 10:00 a.m. Facetime appointment with her granddaughter in Ohio. They do some math and sight words and tell stories that bring laughter.

Pat O’Donnell. Ready for Facetime.

Working or retired, one of the best pieces of advice offered was, “Don’t check on your retirement accounts, it will only add to your anxiety.”

Be kind to yourself, relax, read, and check on friends. Help relieve their anxiety.


  1. You’ve captured the current culture for our age group very well! Very positive. Good reporting! Thanks!

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