Overcoming Loneliness

By on October 19, 2013
woman on beach sad expression

By Rhonda Caudell –

Studies regarding loneliness conducted on seniors over age 60 and reported by JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) indicated the following:  read the article HERE

  • An increased risk of death over the six-year follow-up period.
  • Functional decline…including participants being more likely to experience decline in activities of daily living.
  • Developing difficulties with upper extremity tasks.
  • Difficulty in stair climbing.
  • Being a common source of suffering.

Unfortunately, there are many seniors in our communities that are very lonely. Conversely, there are more and more programs being developed to help overcome loneliness in the aging population…through community efforts, faith based programs, and schools where the generations are being connected.

Yet my mind seems to always point toward prevention.

HOW DOES ONE AVOID THE NEGATIVE FACTORS OF LONELINESS?

Recently I was getting to know a new friend over a cup of coffee, and we begin to discuss how as “boomers”, “empty nesters”, “free birds” or whatever we are called, we struggle to acquire  friends in this life stage. The normal course of friendships occur in schools or your neighborhood or church, then in college grouped by interest or sports. Next stage your friends come from colleagues, co-workers or from the parents of  one’s children’s friends. Then we reach the stage of life when the kids have grown and moved out … perhaps we are working part time now, or lost a job due to numerous reasons. Many times our long time neighbors have moved and we find ourselves with very few or no friends. I believe this is the prerequisite to loneliness.

HOW DOES ONE MAKE FRIENDS WHEN THE NORMAL CHANNELS HAVE DRIED UP?

An article appeared in Huffington Post (Read Here) about a year ago that offered several good suggestions:

1) Explore local opportunities to meet new people such as, local coffee shop, local library branch, local clubs of interest, local college offering evening classes.

2) Follow your interests like tennis… join a team…biking, join a biking group and enter a race in your age category.  If you like to throw parties, volunteer to run the annual  fund-raiser at your synagogue or church. If you hike, join the Sierra Club.  Here’s the one caveat about following your interests: Nobody ever met anyone while watching “American Idol” from the couch.

3) Friends come in various packages. Be open to the idea that it’s OK to have friends who are older or younger. The fact that they are in different stages in life just means they bring a different perspective to the table.

4) Explore Travel Groups.

5) Become a joiner, participate in charity events like a 5K run or walk.

6) Be bold, ask for someone’s number that you just met and meet up another time as a follow up.

7) Keep up with old friends through Skype, email, or conference calling.

 

Here are some ideas I personally have utilized and have shared with others:

1) Take walks in the local park or your neighborhood, intentionally identify someone you see, that you do not know, and speak to them, strike up a casual conversation. Many times if you walk the same time and place each day, you will see the same people. Find common ground with these potential new friends.

2) Find a church in your area and get connected with a small group of other adults, volunteer in a service project.

3) Find a community food bank and volunteer.

4) Find and visit lonely seniors in your community, you both will benefit.

5) Attend community garage sales and strike up conversations with people there; have your own sale and do the  same.

6) Be active on LinkedIn (or other social media), join groups you are interested in on the sites. Inevitably there will be people in the group from your area with the same interest. Reach out and start an online conversation. Eventually you may decide to meet for coffee, include others from the same group. You essentially are starting an off line interest group from an online social site.

Bottom line, get out of your comfort zone of doing nothing…make new friends…it will be well worth it!! Consider again the effects of Loneliness…..

And lastly, but the most important:

Men/Women were not created to be alone. We were created to be in relationship with our creator and with others. In Matthew 1:23-Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel-which when translated, means, God with us. And Psalm16 David says of the Lord, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 23:4 says “Even in the valley of the shadow of death there is nothing to fear. Why? Because you are with me”.

Dallas Willard wrote in his book, Hearing God:

“The promise is not that God will never allow any evil to come to us, but that no matter what befalls us, we are still beyond genuine harm due to the fact that he remains with us and his presence is utterly enough by itself. Our contentment lies not in his presents but in the presence of the ONE whose presents they are.”

Sadly loneliness  haunts the young and aged, rich and the poor, men, women, children, the west the east. Mother Teresa once said: “loneliness is the leprosy of the modern world”.

There is a simple cause of loneliness…lonely people live apart from God. There is also a simple solutions…..Ephesians 2:17-18 “Christ brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us”.

Rhonda Caudell founded Endless Legacy after years of family care giving and serving families as a nurse geriatric care manager. Her life journey brought her to her passion of improving family relationships and communication through elderly parent care coaching. Showing families how to create a long term care process and plan that their kids and the generations to come will want to repeat is her expertise. She works with families throughout the United States. You can reach her at http://www.endlesslegacy.com/ or [email protected].

 

 

About Rhonda Caudell

Rhonda Caudell founded Endless Legacy after years of family care giving and serving families as a nurse geriatric care manager. Her life journey brought her to her passion of improving family relationships and communication through elderly parent care coaching. Showing families how to create a long term care process and plan that their kids and the generations to come will want to repeat is her expertise. She works with families throughout the United States. You can reach her at http://www.EndlessLegacy.com or [email protected]

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Overcoming Lonliness | Endless Legacy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Overcoming Loneliness