Teleconference with McDowell Place residents rejuvenated me

Carlene Moore of McDowell Place of Danville on our teleconference last week.

By LARRY VAUGHT

The longer this coronavirus surge continues, the easier it is to let negative thoughts filled your mind and body. For those of you who might not have figured it out, I also have a bit of a problem when I am not busy because sitting idle is not my strength.

That’s why last week I was happy when Mandy Emmons, program manager and community coordinator at McDowell Place of Danville, reached out to me after residents there were confined to their rooms, meals in the dining room were cancelled and group activities called off because of the virus.

“We are trying our best to keep residents physically active and engaged while they are safely distanced from the rest of the building.  We decided to give teleconferencing a try and it has worked amazingly well,” Emmons said. “We have had group exercise, a comedy hour, reminiscence and even bingo.

“The residents are loving it, sometimes even staying on the call talking as a group long after the activity has ended.”

Emmons asked me to be a “guest speaker” for the group. I’ve been on conference calls with coaches and athletes for many, many years. Last week I was even on video conference calls with both Mark Stoops and John Calipari.

Lyman Alexander was one of 12 McDowell Place of Danville residents ranging in age from 81 to 101 on last week’s teleconference.

But I never quite imagined myself as the person others would be calling to talk to or ask questions. Still, I have enjoyed every outing I have attended with residents at McDowell Place and thought why not give it a try with the residents and staff members.

What a fun 40 minutes it turned out to be. Twelve residents ranging in age from 81 to 101 joined the call along with several staff members. Rather than talk only about sports, we talked about the situation in our community along with sports — and don’t doubt that the residents there love their sports.

I was hoping to make all them feel better about their situation. I couldn’t imagine basically being in a room 24/7. However, they made me feel better. No pouting, no complaining, no whining. The residents were upbeat and shared stories of tough times from many, many years ago and how our country survived and advanced.

I’m not sure when normal will return — or if it will — but I know the time I spent with the McDowell Place residents last week certainly help rejuvenate me emotionally in a way I needed a lot more than those remarkable men and women did.

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