Are you lonely?
Loneliness can happen to people of all ages and all social standing. While we often think about it with regard to the older people, I have seen how loneliness has affect our young, middle generation as well as
the older men and women of the world. This is a serious topic and one that should be taken to heart by the young and old alike.
The Dangers of Loneliness, Psychology Today" www.psychologytoday.com/articles Loneliness and isolation can cause depression and it has been noted that many older people commit suicide because they feel unwanted, not valued and extremely isolated.
A 1990 Gallop study indicated that about 36% of Americans are lonely. That is more than 1 in 3. In other places in the world, such as England, 1 in 10 people say they are lonely and are seeking a support system. In East and North-East Asia, more than one in three people will be older than 60 years by 2050, causing many to examine the various alternative ways to cope with this worldwide impending situation.
Changing family structures leave many older people without traditional means of support, their children are scattered in many different places and their focus is centered on their own personal growth and that of their children often forgetting about the wellbeing of their parents.
There are definitely challenges to an older population; too often a person is left alone after their partner dies. When I first became involved in Betty's life, she refused to admit that she was lonely. She wanted everyone to believe that her days and nights were filled with various activities but with time, I began to realize that she craved to see my face during the various hours of the day when I attended to her. She could have participated in activities at our local senior center, but for whatever reason, she found that environment too complicated and busy for her. She enjoyed a one on one conversation and interaction. We took walks around the block, went grocery shopping and worked on puzzles of various forms. The word puzzles particularly made her laugh and truly gave her a sense of accomplishment when she was able to find the right words.
Next time you are in line at the grocery store or taking a walk in nature, take a look at those around you, one of the people you encounter just might be lonely and need a kind word, a helping hand or even a warm smile. These people are our families, friends, coworkers and ourselves.
An idea came to me recently and gave me food for thought - older people are a wealth of knowledge and a source of inspiration to the young. I believe it would benefit the community and all of its members by enlisting the help and support of those who are also seeking friendship. Mentors are needed for all age groups. Men, women and children are craving to be noticed, inspired and motivated in a non-threatening way. We could foster programs where all of these people can go to seek whatever it is they are hoping to experience.
Loneliness is a state of mind that can be changed if and when we are willing to make a conscious effort to fill our lives with a genuine and proactive involvement that is satisfying. When we isolate ourselves from life, we imprison our minds, body and spirit and force deprivation upon ourselves. Occasional loneliness is normal and natural but prolonged bouts can be dangerous. There are so many outlets available to us today that can put us on the right track and help us find meaning and purpose in our lives. If you know of anyone that may be suffering from loneliness, reach out with compassion and a true sense of caring and sharing.
The benefits are awesome to all parties, both the giver and the receiver. I have learned to be my own best friend. I love to read, listen to music and write and participate in numerous activities that allow me to interact with others. In most cities around the world, there are senior centers with a plethora of activities to satisfy everyone's needs. I have observed in my community that many senior citizens have pets to fill the void. They often gather in the common area and share stories with other dog owners who have common interests. Friendship and companionships are often foster through these encounters. We now live in a global world and there is no need for anyone to be lonely that is, of course, unless it is the choice of preference.
Joan Marie Ambrose
Author, Creative Writer, Motivational Speaker