I am sitting at my home computer creating my 35th blog for the Validation Training Institute and noting that it is exactly one year since my first blog appeared. On April 10, 2020, I wrote about being in lockdown and confronting our collective fears of the dangerous new pandemic, while taking comfort in personal faith, community, and the wondrous rebirth of our natural world after a long winter. Those thoughts remain quite fresh in my mind today, a year later, but now I am fully vaccinated, like the majority of people over the age of 65 in the United States, and I am almost ready to exhale.
I count my many blessings daily including my family’s physical and mental health which have remained excellent so far, though my children and grandchildren living in the US and Europe are not yet able to be vaccinated and we are all in the midst of another global surge. I could not have predicted that the world now has lost almost three million people to coronavirus, well over half a million in the United States alone. By now everyone has been touched by this virus and mourned the loss of friends, colleagues, and family without the comforts of immediacy and simple gestures like hugs and kisses. However, I have also witnessed remotely other life affirming rituals including a baby naming, a bat mitzvah, and a wedding in addition to celebrating the lives of those we have lost. I have been able to stay connected with my faith community with online services, my family with regular video chats, and my friends with calls and social media. I have gained even more appreciation for nature through my daily walks outside. I have stopped lamenting all the trips and social occasions and opportunities which I missed last year and have now turned to the realizations that survival was more important and vaccinations make a return to our previous life so much closer to reality. I try not to dwell on what was lost, but what enriched us during adversity and want to continue to build on that for all our betterment.
Caring about not only ourselves but others has gained more priority with me. Compassion and understanding have been difficult at times during this highly divisive year, but worth our continued efforts. Showing gratitude is another. Self-sufficiency and channeling inner resources have helped me endure while others suffered without these assists. Maintaining a positive attitude has always been a welcome ally. Finding healthy outlets to relieve stress is essential. One of those outlets for me has been communicating with the Validation community through this blog. It began as a casual endeavor because I was already keeping a personal online journal of my thoughts, but I never expected to dream up so many blogs to share with you. I know that most of you have been challenged this past year in ways you could never have dreamt of and perhaps even doubted your continuing ability to serve the highly demanding world of older adults living with cognitive decline.
Your commitment is remarkable and VTI salutes you! I hope our efforts as an organization to provide you with not only hope but also practical online tools have helped you succeed. Our online resources including how to videos, webinars, and Validation courses provide a bridge to the future when we can all be together again. We are not there yet, but I think we are much closer to that day now and can look forward to it.
By: Fran Bulloff, VTI Board President
The Validation Training Institute (VTI) is a non-profit organization that advances knowledge, values, education and research rooted in the Validation method. The objective is to nurture respect, dignity and well-being in the lives of older adults experiencing age-related cognitive decline and their caregivers. Our vision for the future is that every older adult experiencing age-related cognitive decline, and their caregiver, can feel the joy and love of meaningful communication.