On the day I meet 86-year-old Chris Swanson inside her room at Horizon House in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood, it feels like a party.
“Yay for family!” says Swanson with a smile.
In Swanson’s cozy room filled with books and photos from her adventurous life stand her son, her daughter-in-law and a friend. It’s been more than a year since Swanson has been able to have visitors in her room.
There is laughter and long embraces are shared. I ask how this moment feels, to which her son responds with a smile and kindly says, “Um, great, but so far it’s involved doing an interview with a reporter,” says Eric Benson, Chris' son.
Taking the cue, I pack up my stuff and leave the room so the family can catch up in private.
Scenes like this are playing out in retirement communities and nursing homes all across Washington state. Normalcy is finally returning to the lives of older people – individuals who have been the most vulnerable to COVID – after a year of having a pandemic separate them from loved ones and friends.
In this episode of Transmission, we hear from residents at Horizon House about what the last year has been like. For many, loneliness and the reality that valuable time was being eaten up by a pandemic was the worst part of this difficult period. Now, older people are leading the way in showing the rest of us how to live again.