Those at highest risk during pandemic offer reasons to be thankful

FOX Files

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – Residents at a St. Charles County senior living are finding unique ways to connect during Thanksgiving. At The Boulevard Senior Living at St. Charles, you might never know you’re talking to people who are at most risk.

Eighty-four-year-old Carol Wiegman’s family met with her through a window earlier in the day.

“This is our atypical Thanksgiving but a way for us to get family members together given the circumstances,” Cheryl Devita, Wiegman’s daughter, said.

You can feel these residents’ holiday spirit, even through a Zoom call.

“I’m 88,” said Shirley Ferguson. “Are we 88 and 87, honey?”

Shirley’s husband, Jim, answered, “You’re 88 and I’m 87.”

The Fergusons have been married for 67 years. Shirley has one simple answer to getting through isolation.

“There’s one thing we say all the time and we have to and it helps a lot and it’s, ‘I love you a lot, honey,’” she said.

Her advice to those of us who can’t get together is to find the things you are thankful for.

“I’ve made a list of what I’m grateful for and it’s family and friends and even ice cream,” she said.

When restrictions loosened for about month earlier this year, the center organized lively events.

“I just really like the things that get them out of their comfort zone and they can really laugh and have fun with,” Rachel Essmer, resident services director,said.

Under lockdown, Essmer still organizes activities through technology.

Shirley Ferguson said she notices the effort, adding that her gratitude is critical in getting her through the pandemic.

“I’m thankful for the professional workers we have. They work so hard and so long,” she said. “I’m really thankful to them and the essential workers they work, work, work.”

Shirley said her thankfulness feeds her as much as it does the people she recognizes.

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