While many have complained about all they’ve missed out on over the last year, it would seem that June DeVall could one up anyone.
The 97-year-old woman, who is physically active and mentally sharper than ever, has been largely confined to her apartment at an assisted-living facility for the past year. Yet the only real complaint DeVall has is that she can’t dine at her favorite restaurants or shop at the mall.
“I am not the kind of person that dwells on the bad things because there are too many of them. I mean, I would be overwhelmed,” DeVall said. “And so the last year has been the same as all my years. My activities did not change much. My attitude did not change. I did what I have always done. And in my mind, I know it’s a very, very serious situation, but I’ve never been a worrier. I continue to seek God daily for his wisdom of what to do in this crisis.”
DeVall has not only kept a positive outlook during a year of isolation; she’s also inspired those around her to do the same.
She spends her days reading the Bible, solving sudoku puzzles, scrolling through Instagram, calling family members, going for walks and taking fitness classes.
“Miss June is great,” said Monah Folse, executive director of The Blake at Lafayette. “She sits out in the sun every day for vitamin D, shares Bible study with both assisted living and memory care. Walks away from negativity. She’s a genuine, positive and cool person.”
Dr. Britini Hebert, a Lafayette internist who specializes in geriatric medicine, has been continuously inspired by her patient, especially during the pandemic.
“This whole past year, there was a lot of, ‘Oh, well. They’re old. They were going to die anyway.’ That sort of thing,” Hebert said. “I think she really encapsulates that you can have a beautiful, meaningful, enjoyable life at any age and that we all will want the years that we have left.”
Hebert has pushed the community to take the pandemic seriously from the start. She’s spent a good deal of her time fighting misinformation on social media surrounding the virus, mask usage and vaccines. She also traveled to New York City last spring to help treat coronavirus patients at a field hospital and launched a COVID-19 vaccine scheduling hotline earlier this month.
The doctor said that older people have not only suffered from more serious illness and greater isolation during the pandemic, but also from discrimination.
“Disposable. That’s how people have treated them. That’s been heartbreaking,” Hebert said. “And then I see someone like her; and she’s managed to keep a good attitude. She’s extremely bright, just a very insightful person.”
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