Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Learning To Live With Loneliness

Where has the world gone to
Since I reached the age of 65?
Where are the friends and followers
Who crowded around those early years;
Those few, a very few, too few, still alive?
I look back longingly at cold coals, the fire
That once burned in me with such joy and strife,
The lost moments and quiet folds of those dallying
Days when loafers and lovers lived along with me.
Now, in this deathly quiet of my lonely living room,
I am often alone, too often alone, too much alone, ever all alone.
- RER

When we age, we lose more than our youth. We lose our loved ones, our acquaintances, our connections with the world we once knew. As our social circles shrink, our tenuous grip on life and all it means to us is wizened and grayed along with the hair on our head and the skin droopingly covering our weakening hands and blurring face.

As our world becomes smaller, our remembered lives wither and fade as we lose our friends. In many recent surveys, about 22 percent of those surveyed were “emotionally lonely”, feeling alone, left out, lacking in close companionships.” Sixteen percent were “socially lonely”, feeling they had no one to talk to or turn to, that they didn’t really belong to any group. Another 19 percent were “isolated”, experiencing both social and emotional loneliness.

The result? We die sooner. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 14 of every 100,000 people age 65 and older died by suicide in 2004, a higher rate than the general population. In addition, depressed lonely seniors may be at risk of early mortality, literally dying of loneliness because life no longer holds meaning when there are no longer friends or loved ones to share it.

These studies also report “good news”: as many as 40 percent of seniors still feel “connected”, feeling neither socially nor emotionally lonely. These seniors found new friends, joined special interest groups as varied as bird watching, book clubs and square dancing.

They also volunteer to help the hundreds of non-profit social and educational organizations that enhance the communal good. These elder volunteers have recreated their lives, rejuvenating themselves by passing on their experience, wisdom and energy to the next generations. No matter how old, ill, or physically handicapped, senior volunteers can make great positive changes in their communities.

Start searching the local telephone books, newspapers, and social agencies to find a newjob, a new life, and a new career of helping others. Don’t “retire” yourself to a life of worthlessness and loneliness. Your neighbors need you. Your new yet unmet friends need you. A new, happier, richer life awaits you.

5 comments:

Tulip said...

well, there may be neighbors and unmet friends who need me, but to my utter surprise, nobody seems to want me. This isn't whining, just a raw observation of the past decade or more; I am not bad looking, self-supporting, improving my education, and pleasant enough company, but seem to be invisible. Recently a man I work with lamented that he was frustrated because after a year in a new town, (the one in which I live), he still 'didn't know anybody'. Startled, I said "but you know me!". He actually blushed, and I realized I'd embarassed him...it seemed I didn't count as "knowing anybody". It's not the first time I've had someone confide in me that they "haven't met anyone" only to be told that they certainly didn't mean me.

It no longer hurts my feelings, just confuses the hell out of me.

Tomorrow, I shall go to chinatown shopping, and have lunch...alone. It beats sitting at home waiting for someone to realize that I'm alive.

Anonymous said...

i wanna think its not that people dont want you or dont see you, its just that the poeople that dont notice you are not worth enough to know you..
i say this cuase i feel the same as you do.. although when there is a person that notices you.. that one person in a million or in years of waiting ...you realize what these confusing words mean...

Anonymous said...

that is the same that i think. someone who dont notice u , dont deserve to know u. but if someone notice u , that is really something worth living for. but also i want to say that not everyone is so lucky to find that person. but if u do find, u r lucky and try ur best to make it last long.

p.s. sorry if my english is not correct. its not my first language.

bogartkick said...

Its really possible that everything changes if you are growing older. I believe in that theory that elder people might get better than what they have in younger years. Thanks for the information!

Anonymous said...

This is so sad and not uncommon at all. Two suggestions:

1) If you are mobile and can get out and about, go to meetup.com and sign up! They will most likely have several local groups that will interest you. It's a great way to meet people.

2) If you want a friendly phone call, every day, check out friendlyjingle.com. It's an awesome service where a friendly person calls you daily Could be a wake-up call or someone to talk to before going to sleep. They cater to seniors but my cubicle mate has them call him for wake up calls. He loves it.

Hope this helps. Loneliness is deadly. Seriously.