Time For Baby Boomers to Take Coronavirus Seriously

I realize many of us baby boomers feel young and invincible, but I urge you to please stay safe during this pandemic of coronavirus. Although anyone can get coronavirus, it’s us baby boomers – specifically those ages 60 and older – who are more likely to become seriously ill from the disease. If you have underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, you’ll need to be extra careful.

Like many boomers, I feel young and healthy. I wasn’t overly concerned when this whole thing started.

After all, our generation considers ourselves to be extra tough. Aren’t we the generation that survived drinking water out of a hose and cars without seat belts? To think of all the germs we were exposed to as we played in the mud digging for earthworms and ate food dropped on the floor before germaphobia kicked in – and we were just fine.

Besides, look at the age of those running the country. President Trump is 73, Nancy Pelosi is 79, and the two remaining candidates for the Democratic nomination, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, are 77 and 78, respectively. They were all still going strong. My father, 87, was still running around despite all the warnings.

The cruel nickname, “Boomer Remover,” referencing the higher mortality rate among older people infected with coronavirus began trending on Twitter. The Washington Post became associated with the trending term by highlighting boomers who have ignored advice from the CDC and refused to make any changes to their lifestyle. On a Facebook page for “The Villages,” a Florida retirement community, a majority of residents seemed to agree that the pandemic was “being overblown.”

Evidently, our millennial children are at their wits end trying to get us boomer parents to take this virus seriously and stay at home, as evidenced in this hysterically funny article in The New Yorker.

Now, I’m not advising that we boomers start panicking, but I think it’s time for an attitude adjustment for some of us skeptical boomers that have felt invincible to this point.

We’re not.

It’s important to remember that this disease doesn’t care how old you look and feel. Look at boomers Tom Hank and Rita Wilson, both 63, who certainly feel young-at-heart but tested positive for the virus.

Here in California where I live, there have been more than 300 cases of coronavirus. Schools in our area have been shut down. Bars and breweries have been asked to close and restaurants to cut their capacity in half. Trump recommended gatherings be limited to 10 people. As a result, instead of attending religious services in person, my husband and I now watch from home as they are streamed to us. Yesterday, Gov. Gavin Newson urged all residents over the age of 65 to self-quarantine in their homes.

“We recognize that social isolation for millions of Californians is anxiety-inducing,” he said. But, “we need to meet this moment head on, and lean in and own this moment … and take actions we think are commensurate with the need to protect the most vulnerable Californians.”

It feels like I’m living in an episode of Twilight Zone.

So, it’s time to start taking this seriously my fellow boomers. My husband is 60 and I will turn 60 later this year, so I’m paying attention to all the guidelines. Let me be clear, I am not a medical professional, but I’ll share some of my research for specific precautions older adults are advised to take to protect their health. But remember: Recommendations for coronavirus may change as officials learn more, so monitor your local health department and the CDC for updates.

Here are some tips for those over the age of 60 I’ve gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Stock up on supplies including groceries, household items, and over-the-counter medications you’ll need if you become sick. Contact your physician about obtaining extra prescription medications  you need to have on hand if self-quarantined.
  • Social distancing is the new phrase for 2020. Stay six feet away from other people – think of the length of an average dining room table or a pair of skis. Avoid crowds and non-essential travel, especially cruises. 
  • You’ve already heard this but wash your hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds. The health secretary Matt Hancock suggested washing hands while singing Happy Birthday twice, but other songs will work as well. For example, the chorus of Staying Alive will do the trick: “Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother/ You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive/ Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’/ And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive/ Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive/ Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive.” Prefer country? Try the chorus from Dolly Parton’s classic country song Jolene: “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene / I’m begging of you please don’t take my man / Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene / Please don’t take him just because you can.” If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face and frequently-touched surfaces in public places – light switches, elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something. At home, clean and disinfect often, especially surfaces that are often touched like counter tops, tables, door handles, light switches, toilets, faucets, sinks – and don’t forget your cell phone.

In addition to these precautions, keep a careful eye out for symptoms that can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, stay home and call your doctor. Be sure and inform them that you have or may have coronavirus (COVID-19) so they can protect others from getting sick. Ask your healthcare provider for medical advice. If you have mild symptoms and are not sick enough to be hospitalized, you can recover at home. If this is the case, follow CDC’s guidelines.

The CDC advises to get medical attention immediately if you develop emergency warning signs such as :

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

The CDC adds that this list is not all inclusive and advises that you consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are “severe or concerning.”

So my fellow boomers, stay safe but remain calm and positive.

Personally, I’m taking precautions, but still riding my bike and taking hikes outdoors – while keeping my distance from others. Be sure and stay in touch with your loved ones through texts, email, social media, Skype or FaceTime so you don’t feel isolated.

As Tom Hanks said to his followers: “Remember, despite all the current events, there is no crying in baseball.”


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Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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9 Responses

  1. Cynthia Sancinito says:

    We just have to prepare ourselves and keep ourselves healthy.

  2. Cynthia Sancinito says:

    Just keep our selfs healthy

  3. Thanks for all the info, Julie.

    Yes, we are taking it seriously and trying to follow all the rules.
    Scary times for many.
    Stay safe Julie and family.

  4. Cat Michaels says:

    Julie, Adjusting to the new normal here and wanting to make the best of these unprecedented life challenges. I have not heard the “Boomer Remover” term and do not find it amusing. These times call for coming together as a global community instead of being Divisive and unkind. Where would our world be without the helpers of any age?

    • juliegorges says:

      I am not amused by the term “Boomer Remover” either. It just seems mean and beyond cruel. On the other hand, I think some younger ones are trying to protect us boomers, including children urging parents to stay home and others taking precautions, even though they are young and would probably survive, for our benefit. You are absolutely right, we all need to come together to support one another through these trying times.

  5. Susan Schaefer says:

    Personally I have an extensive background in both Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases.
    The people I have had the most difficulty
    getting through to are my millennial children.
    My 25 year finally called last night to say she was scared.
    My husband is with her now helping her Uhaul out of her college apartment, as her college closed last week for the semester.
    I told her I wanted to get her home immediately, and why.
    Now that there are rumblings of a complete lockdown of NYS, she is finally
    paying attention.
    I just hope the lockdown waits until after tomorrow.
    -63 year old mama married to 62 year old dad

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