How 3 Oklahomans pursue their passions during pandemic
by EDDIE ROACH
Published: Wed, November 25, 2020 12:01 AM
When the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe, individuals of all ages faced a challenge: dwell on the change in daily life or make the most of it.
The latter was what 90-year-old Beverly Langley chose.
A resident at Concordia Life Plan Community, Langley used her extra time to dive headfirst into her passion for painting. Creating over 80 pieces of art while sheltering in place, Langley found joy amid her easel and watercolors.
“Every day, I painted. I had books, and I just picked some [photos] out of there that I really liked,” said Langley. “It was something different every day, and each time I painted a picture, I thought ‘Yay! I’ll do another one now.'”
Concordia leadership noticed Langley’s abundance of artwork and provided her with additional watercolors, paintbrushes and canvas.
“Concordia gave me what I needed to further pursue my interest in art,” Langley said.
Joan Quatro, 85, spent her time tackling a hobby she wholeheartedly enjoys—knitting hats for children. Before the pandemic, Quatro learned how to create hats with a loom-like machine called a “Knifty Knitter.” Quatro taught other residents the technique and spearheaded Concordia’s volunteer partnerships with organizations such as HUGS and the American Heart Association. Now, while staying safe and staying in, Quatro has continued knitting hats and has encouraged her fellow residents to do the same. She’s organized the hats and other items to go in care packages for soldiers and to local hospitals for newborn babies.
“It’s a great service, I think,” said Quatro of HUGS. “Choosing to spend your time doing something you love, while helping others in the process, is a great thing.”
Pre-pandemic, Concordia resident Joan Quatro called BINGO for residents in Assisted Living. She now knits hats and virtually organizes Concordia’s HUGS outreach program. [PROVIDED]
According to the Oklahoma State Health Department, older adults are among those at a higher risk for severe illness as a result of the coronavirus. Senior living communities have had to find new ways to encourage residents to connect with others and express their creativity. Whether it’s providing art supplies, yarn or technology, Concordia’s leadership team made it a priority early on to embolden residents to pursue their passions.
Though different from living at home, senior living communities like Concordia can provide resources and support many older adults are seeking, especially now. Communities that put health as a top priority while applying the best recommendations to stay COVID-free provide peace of mind to seniors considering the community option.
“Though the pandemic has brought with it many challenges, it’s been inspiring to see so many of our residents find creative ways to spend their time,” said Julie Davis, marketing project manager at Concordia. “We have a novelist who has decided to revisit her writing, painters creating lovely art, gardeners, bakers, musicians or those, like Joan, who have found ways to give back and volunteer. It’s our privilege to support the many unique talents and interests of our residents, especially now.”
According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults who engage in productive activities that bring them joy have a longer lifespan, experience lower rates of depression, are better prepared to cope with loss and are less likely to develop certain diseases, such as dementia.
Verna Schones took up gardening during the pandemic and now has many plants to show for it. She is shown here in her apartment at Concordia Life Plan Community. [PROVIDED]
Before the pandemic, Verna Schones spent her free time volunteering in Concordia’s Memory Care and Assisted Living. To stay socially distant, she has taken a break from in-person volunteerism and has instead shifted her focus to two of her other loves: gardening and sewing.
“I have kept very busy,” said Schones. “I essentially have a gift shop of all the things I sewed. I probably have at least 50 plants in my apartment. I look forward to contributing my plants and creations to others once the pandemic slows down.”
Gardening has been linked to increased life expectancy, reduced stress and anxiety and improved moods in older adults.
“I think we should all search for hidden talents we don’t know we have,” said Langley. “No matter how old we are, we can enjoy the gifts God has provided to us. It’s truly a joy to share them.”
For more information about Concordia’s senior living options, living in a community focused on helping residents live their best life or ways Concordia is proactively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, call 405-724-2237 or visit concordiaseniorliving.com.
This article is sponsored by Concordia Life Plan Community.