“Loneliness is a growing crisis…The need for friendship and support and meaningful relationships does not fizzle out with age. Whether we are 24 or 84, we all need connections that matter.”
I believe that loneliness is everyone’s business because we happen to be dying from it.
Yes, loneliness has been linked to shortening our life span in much the same way that smoking and obesity have been deemed such culprits.
And though we may differ on our views about politics, nearly every one of us would agree that the feeling of loneliness is something to be dreaded.
By the way, these issues of social isolation and loneliness are not as invisible as we think because we’re now discovering that they are contributing factors to high blood pressure, depression, and placing people at a higher risk for suicide.
Unfortunately, too many seniors who are coping with depression do not recognize it for what it is, and therefore, rarely seek treatment or counseling to help combat debilitating symptoms.
In fact, it is only recently that community senior centers have begun offering free mental health counseling and emotional support to seniors with depression by collaborating with services offered at nearby hospitals and clinics.
“During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.”
Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murphy
By addressing the need to help combat loneliness, we may very well help make a difference in the lives of a boomer or senior who is alone. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could help empower men and women over 50 to live their highest vision for their lives, including finding a loving relationship if that’s what they want?
We all have a natural human need and longing to share our life with someone and to feel a special connection to others. So it is certainly amazing and inspiring when two people can discover love and friendship in their senior years.
We don’t necessarily have to marry, you know.
The important thing is to be with someone we feel a few sparks of chemistry with and who we can talk to and go places with. And in case you’re wondering, such magical unions really do take place every single day and bless our world with storybook wonder!
When my next book comes out, which will hopefully be in the next two months, I know you will enjoy reading about how fifty couples from east coast, west coast, and middle America met in later life and discovered new and wonderful healing romantic friendship and love.
For example, Linda met Mike when she bought his washer and dryer at his garage sale, Jim met Lisa because she was the mail carrier who delivered his mail each day at noon when he came home for lunch, and Russell fell into conversation with Peggy while they both waited for delayed luggage at airport Baggage Claim.
To be sure, one of the things that we need more of are daytime social or dating venues where seniors who don’t drive at night can be safely introduced. And it sure helps to have a little music to dance to or some musical entertainment to inspire the feeling of having fun. Besides which, music is a wonderful mood elevator, right?
Once upon a time, marriage was the norm for adults in America, but now more people happen to be single than married so loneliness is prevalent. Also, nowadays families are split up all over the world so it helps when adult children stay physically connected to their aging parents (Social media is not the same as being there in person to talk and visit.)
But it’s a numbers game, and nothing more. Each day is filled with countless opportunities for meeting strangers everywhere we go, especially when:
- We get out of the house to go to work or to volunteer our time for a worthy cause.
- Enroll in a class to learn something new.
- Take a group bus trip to a fun destination.
- Or serve on a board or committee that supports our favorite charity.
I, personally, discovered romantic love and friendship simply by going through the activities of daily living.
It was on a very ordinary Tuesday afternoon when I met David at a local senior center in a ballroom dance class where I was gathering material for a television segment which I was hosting on the value of ballroom dancing for seniors. That was nearly ten years ago, and as David likes to say, he and I have been dancing in the direction of our dreams ever since!
But it’s up to us to keep our dreams alive because ultimately we are responsible for our own fate.
Which means smiling, always looking our best, making eye contact with strangers, and staying open to new friendships everywhere we go.
To avoid loneliness, it is also important to stay active, mingle with others, give back, learn something new such as a musical instrument or foreign language, feed your spiritual life, and be full of joy! And I’ve saved the best quote for last…
“If you are afraid of being lonely, don’t try to be right.”
NEXT WEEK: “Love After Loss”