Overcoming senior loneliness

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 6, 2018

The key to overcoming single senior loneliness and the blues

At the end of last week’s newsletter, I asked Champs for their opinions on senior loneliness, and what can be done to lessen it.

As I read the comments, I realized that many of the suggestions for overcoming loneliness were almost identical to tips we’ve stated before regarding how to improve one’s chances for meeting a potential mate.

Here are a few of the valuable suggestions from last week:

Thyrza, California, said, “I think loneliness happens to any age, gender or what have you in life. I was very lonely when my parents moved me with them away from my friends.

“I felt a touch of loneliness when I was a full-time, stay-at-home mom. Now at my age, a widow living alone, loneliness still creeps in. It does not bother me as much as when I was younger with my responsibilities as mom and wife.

“Loneliness affects everyone, but I learned that freedom to do what I want with my life released me from that feeling. I know it will always be part of one’s life but the freedom to act to get out of the loneliness rut is to be embraced. Embrace loneliness and know when to release the feeling. It is just a feeling anyway.”

Jackie, Tampa, Florida, emailed, “Loneliness is the biggest challenge for me as a single. I don’t mind eating out or traveling alone, but sometimes it would be nice to have a companion to share the experiences with.

“I don’t have many female friends who are financially able to travel or go out much. And I’m not a spendthrift, but I would enjoy spur-of-the moment road trips or dinner and a movie with a friend. Before I die, I would love to be in a mutually loving, supportive, and respected relationship.

Esther, Brooklyn, New York, “As a single woman, retired teacher, with no children and little family, I understand how loneliness can be a destructive force if not well addressed. To avoid loneliness, there are several things I do:

-Maintain contact with a small group of close friends with whom I share birthdays, holidays and life events

-Volunteer at the local library, museum and Botanical Garden

-Work as a private English tutor three days a week

-Interact with people of all ages with various needs. My local college offers a broad lifelong learning program with varied courses, travel opportunities and cultural events. I am an active participant

“Never miss a regularly scheduled appointment whether it be a dental, medical or beauty appointment

“Living in New York City, I am able to attend many, diverse cultural and social events. The Harbor Fitness, a state-of-the-arts gym near me, offers a fabulous ‘silver sneakers’ program for people over 55. I work out and socialize regularly.

“Through the internet, I keep in contact with old friends and relatives who live far away. Mainly, I do not feel alone. I am busy, significant and connected!”

Jon, Olympia, Washington, “The reason loneliness can be such a problem is we are ingrained with the philosophy that we must have another person in our lives to be ‘whole.’  Obviously, this is not the universal answer, citing the number of people in miserable marriages and a high divorce rate.

“Doing things in which a person finds fulfillment–not solely to be busy and taking up time–can reduce the feeling that they need an intimate relationship with another person. A few close friends can help make up the difference.”

JoAnn, “Get a dog.  Best friend, a laugh and cuddle a day!”

Jack of All Trades, “On LONELINESS as a health issue: I’m glad the surgeon general has declared loneliness as an epidemic. If all goes well, this will lead to more programs for companionship and enjoyment for older people. On the other hand, it might backfire in some way—causing problems for the lonely. Better awareness of old-age loneliness ought to be a good thing.

“(But probably nothing will alleviate the problem of adult children more interested in ‘their’ money than in their parents’ happiness.)”

Bonnie, California, wrote, “I have great compassion for those experiencing loneliness; It is debilitating.

“I have been able to mostly escape that condition because I am an only child. Without playmates under my roof during my growing-up years, I had to invent my own fun. Creativity, reading, and writing were my friends.

“Now, at 64, and a single, empty-nester mom, those are also my adult enjoyments. I work full-time as a designer and read and write at every opportunity. I also love to travel solo, because my interests are specific, and I like to be able to pace myself and my energy as I go. For that reason, I avoid travel tours.”

“However, if I was seeking companionship, I would reach out to the cultural community and volunteer as a docent. Or at an animal shelter and offer two times a week to give love to the yet-to-be adopted pets.

“Or, save for a river cruise on the Seine. Always, always have something to look forward to. Open your home to a once-a-month pot luck dinner. Drive for Meals on Wheels. (My 96-old uncle still drives and serves others!) Give time at your house of worship.

“Take a free class at a local college. Your calendar will be bursting at the seams with interesting tasks and interesting people and new ideas. And others will be blessed by your contributions.”

Tom’s comment:

There is one key that ties these pieces—overcoming loneliness, combating boredom, and improving one’s chances of meeting a potential mate–together. I wrote about the key in the final eNewsletter of 2017, which was titled, “The five things I’ve learned in three years of retirement.”

That key: seniors must have senior social interaction with people. That is the most important thing I’ve learned in retirement.


          Senior social interaction–absolutely essential for seniors

That December, 2017, newsletter included these three paragraphs: 

“If retired people let socializing with others slip away–they might be sitting around the house or watching too much mindless TV, for example–their retirement will become boring, lonely and meaningless. To be too isolated is not good for one’s health.

“A good way to interact with people is by joining groups. Meetup.com lists thousands of groups and activities and should provide plenty of ideas for people not sure what to do to meet others.

“And one last thing about senior social interaction after retirement. Try to mix social interaction with younger people into your life—kids, grand kids, great grand kids, for example, or friends younger than yourself can keep you thinking young. That’s very important.”

Years ago, a woman said to me, “I’ve been married and unhappy, and single and unhappy. Being single and unhappy is better, in that I can more readily do something about it by getting out of the house and involved in activities I enjoy. I can interact with and meet new people. Whereas, being married and unhappy, isn’t something you can change overnight. Social interaction is more difficult. Divorce takes its toll in time, stress and money.”

So, if you are feeling lonely, get out there and make social interaction a high priority.

Note from Tom Blake

Similar articles to the one above by Tom Blake appeared in these three newspapers

DPTIMES_LOGO-copy1

Dana Point Times Newspaper April 13, 2018

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San Clemente Times Newspaper April 12, 2018

DISPATCH

The Capistrano Dispatch Newspaper April 13, 2018

 

Author: Tom Blake

Tom Blake is a newspaper columnist in south Orange County, California. He has published five books. His primary topic is finding love after 50 and beyond, sometimes far beyond, for people 80 and older as well. He also blogs about travel at TravelAfter55.com.

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