I have often heard from my parents, and even aging peers, that among the many joys of aging is the increasingly long list of items that you are told, "You can't DO THAT anymore."
I have abided, in the main with the long list of public health and hygiene guidelines brought to the fore by this pandemic. Though I have not routinely 'sheltered in place,' I have been pretty religious about social distancing, washing hands, and more recently wearing gloves and a mask. But as we start to venture out more frequently, it appears that several of these new behavior modifications are expected to become permanent.
The Good -
Flextime/Telecommuting - The combination of potentially lower office rents and utility bills, as well as the need for significantly less central office space, with overall productivity rates not apparently harmed by a majority of employees working from home should cause employers large and small to embrace and expand teleworking and flex-time schedules post-pandemic.
Telemedicine - Bad news for everyone who enjoys reading six-month-old issues of People magazine or obscure medical trade publications, but the office part of an 'office visit' to your doctor may largely vanish. Though telemedicine visits are currently being comped and pushed by insurers and practitioners alike, I would later expect a nominal copayment as doctors still want to be compensated for their time.
Appreciation of Family - Though there may be a few new divorces in addition to the coming post-quarantine Baby Boom, this lockdown has also allowed for greater multi-generational family bonding and appreciation, facilitated by board games, long walks/talks and dinner with most family members actually seated around the same table.
The Bad -
NO contact - The French are apparently learning to do without the double-cheek kiss greeting, while the Japanese may double-down and bring back their more formal greeting bow. Human contact is critical to development, bonding, and even feelings of security for many. Without making us all Bubble Boys, regular contact may need some re-invention without becoming the enemy of virus prevention.
NO handshakes, no hugging - Admittedly, I will have trouble saying goodbye to both of these. Those who refused handshakes in years past were always suspect to me. Perhaps coincidentally when I first met Donald Trump during the early 2000s, he was a well-established germaphobe who eschewed shaking hands. Mr. Trump was then only a New York developer/hotelier with an NBC-prime time TV show, demonstrating perhaps a precursor to his later virus prevention before hydroxychloroquine.
Aversion to all public events & gatherings - Everything from school graduations to concerts and most all professional, collegiate, and high school sports, as well as the majority of religious gatherings will all be significantly impacted if this change becomes permanent. Making everything virtual and/or pay-per-view is not a realistic long term solution. This one will simply require a great deal more prayer and thoughtful consideration before many of us are actually willing to forgo Georgia football.
The Impossible -
Social Distancing - We are just over two months into this global closure/lockdown. While I have been periodically out and about throughout this time, I have noted considerable ebb and flow in social distancing spaces, the use of masks and gloves, etc... If '6 feet apart' is to be the new norm, there are several ancillary and sideline casualties including whispering, low-talking, holding hands between all but family and committed couples, and even keeping space with pets, as COVID19 is considered a low-risk biological species jumper.
Kids being kids - In whatever fashion our children return to public school, this fall or later, I am skeptical about how much we can educate or instruct kids not to be kids. Touching each other, eating off each other's plates and the positive qualities of 'sharing' have in the past been a deeply ingrained habit when around peers and other children. Though this virus is in the main of less concern regarding the young, I expect the possibility of them becoming asymptomatic carriers may become the greatest challenge we face this fall.
And as I have come to accept certain aspects of my own aging, and while smiling beneath my mask with sometimes grit teeth...I am conforming to these CDC guidelines, I also take heart in the reality that you can also remain young at heart with regular exercise, smart choices, and some practice. I'll just have to hope that also applies later to always taking along my common sense when I leave home from now on.