(photo info: This file photo shows the way things used to be at the Eaton Rapids senior center — when seniors could gather to celebrate special events and enjoy each other’s company. The center is now closed to the public as a result of COVID-19.)

By Deb Malewski

Contributing Writer

Loneliness can be an issue to deal with during the current pandemic situation, but several local seniors say that they are doing well during this time of social isolation.

Social distancing means to maintain space between yourself and other people outside of your home. This involves staying at least six feet away from other people and avoiding groups of people. It is intended to help flatten the coronavirus curve and prevent the pandemic from worsening.

Because people can spread the virus without knowing they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you do not have any symptoms, experts say. Social distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick, especially older adults and those with disabilities and health conditions.

“I never thought we’d see something like this,” said Mary Marietta, age 92, of Eaton Rapids. “I hope it goes away real soon and doesn’t come back.”

Marietta’s daughter lives nearby and checks on her mother regularly. They have hired someone to do her grocery shopping, and Marietta is curious about her doctor’s appointment that is scheduled next week; it will be done over the phone, an experience new to her.

“I pretty much do nothing right now,” Marietta said. “I walk up and down my drive with my walker, and my neighbor is there, walking six feet behind me.”

“I watch the idiot tube, talk on the phone and work on puzzles. But I do worry about my family and those who are out there working.”

The first thing Marietta wants to do when the quarantine is over is to go to bingo at the Eaton Rapids senior center. She has a lot of friends there and misses the social interaction.

Kay Krumm isn’t fazed much by the isolation.

“I’m not used to going out a lot, anyway,” Krumm said, adding that her daughter provides her with wonderful care. “But I think it’s going to be hard for people not to have Easter dinner with their family.”

Krumm looks forward to going to a bluegill dinner at Chubby’s in Springport when this is over, she said.

Don West, who is 91 years old, and “halfway to 92,” said the isolation has not been a problem for him.

“I do my thing, and I’m happy doing it,” West said. “Every day is great for me.”

West lives with his son and has kept busy with his garden, his new chickens and turkeys, writing stories and poems and calling old friends and relatives. He recently purchased three parakeets, one named for his late wife, Jackie, that have helped keep him entertained.

When the current stay at home order is over, the first thing he plans on doing is inviting people over for a meal, an activity he loves to do with friends.

“I love cooking for people,” West said.

Mannie Block is another senior who is unphased by the imposed isolation.

“I don’t mind staying home,” Block said. “I’ve always been that way.”

She has kept busy doing work around her home, both indoors and out. She is concerned, though, about those who live in apartments and might not be able to get outside much, and those without insurance. Block looks forward to being able to return to her church when this is over.

“The second place I want to go is the senior center,” she added.

The Jean Bradford Kline Senior Center is currently closed to the public but can be reached by phone at 517-663-2335.