Monday, December 07, 2015
How to Help Stop Seniors From Dying of Loneliness
When I was a boy my grandmother read me a story about an old woman whose body was discovered in a rooming house, days or weeks after she died.
And when they went through her possessions they found a diary, with only these same words written on every page:
"Nobody came today."
And although my canny granny was probably just trying to guilt me out for not visiting HER enough i.e. more than four or five times a week.
That story changed forever how I viewed seniors and loneliness.
And I'm reminded of it every holiday season, especially now that I know that loneliness and social isolation can kill.
And are right up there with obesity and a 15 cigarette a day habit on the list of risk factors that can cause premature death.
Which is why I like this Christmas ad from a German supermarket chain...
Of course it isn't really true to life. Many seniors don't have a family to visit them, and have outlived or lost contact with their friends.
So they can end up crushed by loneliness, like the woman whose body was discovered six months after she died, and had written this in her diary:
"Old age is a curse. I feel like a half dried rug - with all its purpose rung out."
Which is why I believe that we should all do more to brighten up the lives of isolated seniors in our midst, as my buddy and I try to do every year.
It doesn't take much. Just a visit, or an invitation to come over, or a card, or a small present, or in my case a slice of the enormous Christmas pudding my Mum mails me from Scotland every year.
Which has enough booze in it to make even the grumpiest senior cheer up.
And you don't need a telescope to spot the lonely, as a young girl does in this other Christmas ad...
Oh sure I know that's not realistic either. But it's amazing how much good a small act of kindness can do. It can even save a life.
It's bad enough that in a country as rich as this one, many seniors are being forced to choose between their food or their medication.
But please do what you can to help stop them from dying of loneliness...
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Labels: Christmas 2015, Loneliness, medicine, Seniors
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Eleanor Rigby - The Beatles
LONELY PEOPLE - America
Those were great ads. Is it a coincidence that both the lonely seniors are men, when women tend to live longer?
There are a lot of responses, and they can't just be from biological family. Not everyone has children, and often nowadays the adult children have moved "half the world away" from Scotland to Vancouver or Melbourne. Often social isolation comes with poverty or increasing frailty, making it harder to keep up friendships and commitments as volunteers or in clubs doing something interesting where they can meet people.
And depression is certainly a factor, often after the death of a spouse.
Some of us boomers who aren't quite seniors face great precarity and attendant social isolation. Many people lose their jobs or get fewer contracts after 50 or 55, and qualify for pretty much nothing. There are people on the streets or in precarious shelter in such cases, who are NOT the typical homeless.
I assume your mum has friends and family where she lives? In any case those boozy cakes would be a magnet.
.. so thoughful of you .. hardly surprising..
You will see suicides among seniors skyrocket within the next ten years, Simon, because Canada has become a country in which it is currently very inadvisable to grow old. The "sociological network" that once provided care and/or income for a sustainable life has been/is being gobbled up by the throat cutting mentality of all businesses here which are just following the mindless leadership of their southern cousins who worship no god other than the almighty dollar. We don't get to hear or see about the rise in self killing because we are too "polite" and "sensitive" to talk about things like that for our own good. The very people who actually are far more responsible for this country being as exemplary as it is (was) are the very ones being victimized by the now-perverted system which is but a shitty, shallow shell of what it is/was supposed to be for the purpose of helping our seniors and anybody else who was/is in need of assistance in just having a sustainable, decent lifestyle. Let's just pray that Trudeau doesn't turn out to be another o-bomb-a or wynne.
Thanks, Simon, for this important and timely reminder of one of the many issues and people we tend to ignore as we go about our daily lives.
and sometimes some of these people drove their family and friends away. Not in all cases, but many who sit by themselves are the same ones who were not pleasant as parents when they were younger. Sometimes what goes around comes around.
having said that, I do agree with Simon, that loneliness is a problem for those suffering from it and society as a whole. It doesn't take much to be nice to others, some times a simple hello. In a world where people frequently move for jobs, they leave family behind and that family ages.
Of course a B.C. facility which was to provide housing for people with problems and provide some level of supervision, had a person in their room for 3 days, dead before anyone noticed.
Sorry, I have not read this because my eyes are too tired tonight. But I get the point of it. I am a senior and frankly, there are not enough hours in a day to do all that I have to do. I have hobbies and I love to read my novels and do Suzuki puzzles, go for walks, go on Facebook, watch a bit of tv sometime, try new recipes and maintain my apartment. All this takes time. I suppose perhaps it depends on people. Some people get lonelier than others. Perhaps I'm just blessed in that I love my solitude, my quiet moments, my "me" moments that I so craved when I was working and raising a family.
I agree with what you have written. We are products of our choices in the past, whether they be positive or negative. Keeping the mind active in a positive way is my greatest pleasure......
hi lagatta...yes the epidemic of loneliness is principally caused by the way society has evolved, and the mobility of family and friends. It's actually more of a problem for young people according to the studies I have read. But I've been working with seniors for years so I know that situation better. And you're right it is in many cases a poverty problem. That's why we absolutely have to improve our CPP, and other benefits for needy seniors. As for my Mum she has lots of friends thanks to her church which provides all kind of support from charity sales, to music lessons and art classes. Also I should add that Scotland provides seniors with medical services in their own homes so they can stay in them as long as possible, and that's very important. And yes the seniors in her church bake up enough cakes to feed the whole village...
hi salamander...well it's only a small thing. I enjoy the company of seniors, so I get a lot out of it myself. As I said in my post, small acts of kindness do go a long way, and they do get passed on...
hi anon...Senior suicide especially for me in their eighties, is a big problem, and one I am familiar with and have worked to prevent. But I hope we can head off another wave as the number of seniors increases. Hopefully we can create the kind of social support systems I have studied in other countries, it's not that hard, and all that is needed is the political will. You're right, our society has become selfish and greedy, so it really is a larger societal problem. Create a kinder, gentler, and fairer society and everyone will be better off. The Liberals seem to be promising to do something about that, so I'm optimistic that we can make some progress. Old age is sometimes looked down upon in a youth oriented society. But there is no reason it can't be as enjoyable or more enjoyable, than all the other life stages...
hi Lorne...I am grateful for this time of the year because it drives many people to do a little more for the poor and the vulnerable, and I would like to see the same spirit all year round. It also makes me feel sorry for those who live in poverty and loneliness at a time when others are so consumed with material things. My companion and I went out the other day to a toy store, because we both feel bad for poor families who can't afford to buy the presents their kids see on TV. And this year we were buying presents for teenagers because that's what the toy banks tell us they need, and although we're going to have a slightly leaner Christmas, I had a hoot trying out the latest toys. So once again by trying to do good for others, you end up doing yourself good as well....
hi e.a.f...yes that can happen, there are many reasons that seniors end up lonely. But I am not judgemental, nor do I believe in dwelling in the past. I tell them all young and old, let's forget yesterday and focus on what we're going to do tomorrow. And of course I always try to get them to laugh. When my beautiful gentle black lab was alive we used to visit a senior's home and he was the star of the show. Now that he is gone I have to work a little harder, but I enjoy it all the same...
hi anon...thank you for this comment, because it does point out something I was going to say in my post, but was so tired I forgot. And that is that many seniors enjoy being alone and are not lonely, after the noise and confusion of a long life. So like any other groups one can't generalize, and I'm happy that you are enjoying your old age. As I said what I would like to see is more support for seniors so they can stay in their own homes as long as possible, and that includes both medical and social support. Some need it more than others, but the same is true for all. The more active and healthier the senior is, the happier they will be...
Hello in there
hi I have my brother an sister pass away in Canada... my mums has just pass away last year .. I have now turn 66 and tell you from what I am seeing and hearing I am going to make my last days very busy...thank you patsy
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