Indoor walks, online meetings and more: How a senior citizen is beating lockdown monotony

Lockdown can lead to boredom, depression and other health complications for senior citizens. Walking indoors, online engagements etc can help them cope.

Senior citizens are more vulnerable and face specific challenges during the COVID-19 lockdown. In this series, some seniors discuss how they’ve been dealing with the situation. In the second part of the series, a senior citizen writes on the solutions he found to cope with lockdown.

In less than six months since its appearance on planet earth, COVID-19 has killed over two lakh humans, apart from infecting over three million more and handing out death threats to the rest of humanity. Intense efforts are on to prevent its spread, help those infected, find a cure and develop a vaccine against it. A battle that is expected to last long.

Our nation, too, reacted with several initiatives, among them a countrywide lockdown that began on March 25. As a result, we have been closeted in our homes 24/7 for over a month now, an experience the present generation has never been through. My wife and I never stayed home, even during weekends, but this microorganism has achieved what we otherwise thought impossible! 

Managing one’s day during lockdown

It is not my intention here to deal with the myriad effects of the lockdown on different segments of the population. I would like to only share with readers some guidance on managing one’s day during the lockdown based on my own experience.

I am 72 and diabetic, and my wife, 67. With the risk factors weighing heavily against us, we decided as early as February 15 to stop shaking hands with people, stop going out as early as March 15. We also sent our domestic help on long, fully paid leave from March 16.

Continuing daily walks

The daily walk isn’t the only activity that people are used to and miss now – the lockdown has brought about many other changes in what has today come to be known as the ‘New Normal’ times!  

My wife and I felt the absence of daily walks earlier than most others as we had stopped going out much earlier. Elderly couples not only miss their walk but could also suffer boredom, depression and other health complications. People could get so worked up under such circumstances that even some long, happily married couples could end up up in divorce courts. Consequently, we felt the need to use our time well. So we sat together and created a list of activities to spend each day happily.

We walk daily across the length and breadth of our home, touching almost every nook and corner. For what it is worth, I have been tracking my daily walk in my phone’s health app.

Following are the numbers recorded in the app over five days in the last couple of weeks:

Although I may not be able to vouch for the accuracy of data thrown up by the app, the numbers do give me comfort that I am indeed exercising my limbs reasonably well during this restrictive lockdown!  

Such walks definitely can’t hurt. On the contrary, a number of advantages accrue to such walkers:

  • No possibility of spreading the dreaded virus
  • Good exercise for most muscles in the body
  • Control of blood sugar
  • Maintenance of physical health
  • Expansion of the lungs
  • Sound sleep at night

The flip side could be:

  • Walking in such confines may at times be uncomfortable
  • Inability to walk as fast and use long strides as I am used to

Some precautions I have learnt to observe during such walks:

  • Put on proper walking shoes, so we don’t slip on floor tiles
  • Keep all windows and doors to sit-outs open, to let in as much oxygen as practical
  • Rearrange some of the lighter furniture to minimise constraints and prevent injuries
  • Take deep breaths
  • Breathe through the nose – avoid breathing through the mouth to the extent practical

Despite rearrangement of furniture, I need to make U-turns in 10 locations in my home, which does reduce my speed!  But I pick up speed whenever I have a straight or nearly-straight path of about 15 to 20 ft in front of me. With all these precautions and constraints, does the walk really provide satisfaction? Yes, indeed – we sweat pretty much at the end of an hour’s walk, take a lot of fresh air into our lungs, are relaxed and get sound sleep at night!

We enjoy other pleasures as we walk.

  • Chatting together cheerfully
  • Looking straight ahead/around, at eye level or above
  • Taking deep breaths, drawing a lot of oxygen into the lungs
  • Enjoying the sight of beautiful flowers of Plumeria Alba, Plumeria Pudica, Plumeria Rubra, Cannas, Ixora, Crape Jasmine, etc. and their fragrance wafting in the gentle evening breeze from the courtyard in front of a sit-out, an important part of our walking track
  • With a TV channel providing global news
Enjoying the sight of beautiful flowers in the courtyard. Pic: Luke Dhanaraj

Finding relief from monotony

Result, more cheer – in fact, much-needed relief from monotony! After our tiring walk, we spend an hour cooling off, with snacks and green tea, talking, reading and responding to messages on our phones, seated on garden chairs in the sit-out! An occasional passing friend’s ‘Hi’ gives us more cheer!  If the friend decides to stand at the Badminton Court and speak with us – maintaining the much needed social distancing, that is a really big bonus!

Interacting with our neighbours while maintaining physical distance. Pic: Luke Dhanaraj

Having spent about two hours walking and cooling off, we still need to utilise the remaining hours of the day! Reading e-newspapers, e-periodicals and other sites helps. News channels from around the globe too provide us some relief, although they keep reporting monotonously on COVID-19! 

Our daughters, living beyond our shores, shared some online games to play with our grandchildren daily after they finish their online classes and homework. Result, playing with our grandchildren has become the greatest entertainment, enabling us to consume an additional hour or so cheerfully.

Both of us spend some time reading and discussing the scriptures among ourselves and a couple of groups in video/Zoom meetings, once or twice a week! The absence of our domestic help has resulted in more household chores for my wife. I offered to wash utensils, cutlery and crockery which consumes a good hour of my time as I am still a trainee on the job!

Bangalore Apartment Federation (BAF) has been organizing ‘BAF Ki BAAT’ daily sessions online, on multiple topics of interest – ‘How well do you know your ooru Bengaluru’, ‘The impending Water Disaster of Bengaluru’, ‘Nandi Hills: The neighbourhood Paradise’, have been some topics on which eminent presenters kept us captivated for about an hour and a half every day!

We watch at least a movie or two a week together on TV! I need to take care of my routine work, by way of consulting engagements too. We also take this opportunity to re-establish ‘phone contact with temporarily lost friends and relatives. Thanks to our several good friends, we haven’t had to go out shopping. We have gratefully accepted their help for obtaining whatever couldn’t be obtained from Big Basket, Daily Ninja, Medlife, etc!

When days are spent this way, we are so busy there is no way boredom can set in. Thus a month has passed by, pretty much in peace, yielding us good health as well!

We need to remember one important aspect however – the virus will probably be here for long, but not forever. The current constraints of the ‘New Normal’ times could be in place for a while in one form or the other, all intended to protect us! Our life itself may change significantly, but the current phase will pass, just as a chrysalis doesn’t remain a chrysalis forever. Changes will keep happening!  ‘Work from Home’ may become the norm, new rules of life would keep emerging, but they too would keep changing with time!

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  1. J Ramani says:

    Good to read your article Mr.Luke.You and your wife use to have brisk walk inside/ outside your complex.May be we are in testing time and this will also pass.Thank you for sharing

  2. Prof. K S GURUMURTHY says:

    We are also having almost similar routine. Both are 70 years’ old. Luckily we are free from any chronic diseases like BP, Sugar etc. Another advantage for us is that we walk in our open roof exposing our body to morning sun rays. We do pranayama, yoga and walking for 1 hour. We have prepared a time table and we stick to it minute wise. So we don’t know how time passes off. With this I am not exaggerating that I am more healthier since March 22 than before.
    We saw nearly 75 good movies in this period, finished reading 3 novels. We tried many old home made sweets and souveries. We swap out duties every day to break monotony. We even prepared rice papads in this period. In between we play rummy and carrom. We have become much more energetic and involve ourselves in romance. All in all we have transformed our life style to a totally new well desciplined one , thanks to CoViD19.

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