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Improving quality of life in the ‘new normal’ is possible

By Jessica Garcia jgarcia@nevadaappeal.com

Local senior centers have closed their dining rooms to social opportunities for mealtimes. Schools are closed and children are doing their schoolwork through distance learning, talking to their teachers online. Churches are worshipping via Facebook Live or recording their Bible studies.

It hasn’t even been a month since Gov. Steve Sisolak gave his “Stay Home for Nevada” directive in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Nevadans quickly have adjusted to a new normal of working from home, living in quarantine and self-isolating to avoid becoming ill.

As of Friday, according to Carson City Health and Human Services, the Quad County region — Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties — reported 16 active cases with two recoveries.

Statewide, approximately 1,514 had tested positive with COVID-19, and the state had reported 43 deaths, the Nevada Health Response dashboard posted.

Sisolak’s announcement this week that he would be extending his order through the end of the month prolongs an already long stay indoors for some.

Most appear to be doing well, adhering to their daily activities or thinking outside of the box if being confined to the box is restricting them from feeling normal. But there are still ways to increase enjoyment in the small spaces of home in these times, according to Christina Sapien, director of Behavioral Health Services for Carson Tahoe Health in the field for 27 years, and Grant Clowers, LCSW, a clinical supervisor for 11 years.

“I’ve found talking to a client that even if your life has gotten smaller, you can still work on enriching the life that you do have, that maybe you can try listening to music or reading more or exercising more or going hiking more,” Clowers said. “Even within the limitations, there are ways of making some kinds of improvements to your quality of life.”

Sapien said to date, Carson Tahoe’s telehealth staff frequently have been calling patients or clients who have not had to make a physical trip to the hospital. They remain in touch virtually by computer or cell phone, so it’s easier to feel more isolated if a patient remains at home and is lacking even the simple interaction of checking in with a nurse.

Finding enjoyment while remaining constantly at home is important for people of all ages, Sapien said, and it can be done in a variety of ways. Getting out for a cup of coffee might not always be accessible for some, but making that small trip to the grocery store might be enough during the middle of the week for some.

Altogether, Carson Tahoe’s outpatient programs serve about 150 patients, and with all that’s going on with COVID-19, Sapien and Clowers said, they’ve had virtual meetings or parties for both patients and employees to help with socialization as needed and keep certain stressors under control.

“There’s definitely skillful ways to make a bad situation better,” Sapien said. “(My son) is an only son, and I would consider him to be very social, he likes to go to the park, but he’s not able to do all of that right now. But he and his friends play video games and maybe they’re more comfortable with social media and interacting there. I know that’s where some people are not as comfortable.”

Clowers said with older patients, especially those who are less mobile and interact less with others and might be more susceptible to feeling overwhelmed by loneliness, it helps to continue checking on them at least once or twice a week. But for those who are more open to using technology, they can get online together and watch movies simultaneously from the comforts of their living rooms digitally and chat at the same time as a means of being together.

“It’s always better than nothing,” he said.

Carson Tahoe Health is offering Community Mental Health stress reduction classes next week to provide relaxation techniques and support for those seeking wellness during the COVID-19 outbreak. The classes, entitled “Coping with Stress During Difficult Times,” will cover topics such as understanding the brain’s negativity bias and counteracting it, mindfulness/relaxation exercises, daily planning for more positive experiences and meditation exercises.

The classes are offered online via Zoom, a videoconferencing service for participants to attend virtual meetings, and will be offered at 10 a.m. Tuesday at https://carsontahoe.zoom.us/j/243094813 and at 5 p.m. Thursday at https://carsontahoe.zoom.us/j/8133422558.