Liza Berger headshot
Liza Berger

This week we mourned the loss of a comedy giant, Jerry Stiller. 

The renowned actor, who was married to a star of similar brightness, Anna Meara, cemented his legacy as the excitable, loud and direct Frank Costanza on the hit show “Seinfeld.”

As you might remember, Frank Costanza was the father of underachieving George Costanza (actor Jason Alexander) and married to the equally excitable and loud Estelle (the real-life Estelle Harris).

Scenes involving Frank have become enshrined in TV history and knit into the fabric of American culture. Who doesn’t remember the snippets involving Festivus and his self-help mantra, “Serenity now!”

Another classic theme, which those in senior living can appreciate, was the argument between Frank and Estelle and Morty and Helen Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld’s sitcom parents) over entry into Del Boca Vista, a fictional retirement community in Florida. If you recall, the two couples were not the most fond of each other, and Seinfeld’s parents dreaded the idea of the Costanzas moving into their housing development.

“Are you trying to keep us out of Del Boca Vista?” Frank rants in one of the show’s most famous episodes.

It’s sad to think about, but how would the sitcom today approach Del Boca Vista, which would be under quarantine with no shuffleboard, formal dining or socializing to speak about? Even more grim, there might be a shortage of personal protective equipment and testing. Heaven forbid, coronavirus might have made its insidious creep into its doors. 

Robert Kramer, founder of NIC, has said that nursing homes won’t be the same following the pandemic. What about the rest of senior living? Will people still want to spend their golden years living in communities that might be ground zero for pandemic outbreaks, suffering in isolation from friends and loved ones? 

If they’re anything like St. Paul Elder Services, in Kaukana, WI, which created a 20-minute video to inform families about what is happening in a senior living community under a stay-at-home order, I’d say yes. The video describes in meticulous detail how the staff is working diligently to protect and care for residents and keep them safe. It’s not an easy or fun time, but the great providers are weathering.

Meanwhile, what would Frank say about living in the topsy-turvy world of the novel coronavirus? That’s an easy one: “Serenity now!”

Liza Berger is Senior Editor at McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.