Seniors & Isolation – why we need to spend time with our elders!
Isolation and loneliness are not new when it comes to the senior demographic, but it’s not talked about enough. There are a number of factors which have contributed to a proliferation of this, especially in North America.
We recently came across an article which highlighted a very heartbreaking story about a 90-year old woman seeking friendship (read more here).
In this particular story, the woman reaches out to her neighbour in an attempt to find some kind of human contact by leaving a note for her neighbour. The neighbour, Marleen Brooks of Missouri, came home to this heartbreaking note from her neighbour. Her senior neighbour from down the street had mentioned that she was lonely and was looking for some friends.
It is disheartening that this elderly woman felt like she wasn’t able to approach her neighbours in a face-to-face conversation to discuss this. She may have been shy or even afraid to approach others, but this interaction shows how lonely she must have been to find human contact.
According to the Government of Canada Website, social isolation can result in reduced social skills. For example, seniors “who develop depression, social anxiety, loneliness, alcoholism, and schizophrenia tend to become socially isolated and uncomfortable around other people.”
In this particular case, the neighbour she reached out to was overjoyed that this elderly woman, Wanda, wanted to be her friend. She even went to visit her with cupcakes and they took a selfie together which she shares on her Facebook.
Wanda was ecstatic that her neighbour actually took the effort to spend meaningful time with her and says, “I hope you didn’t think I was stupid for writing you, but I had to do something. Thank you so much for coming over. I’ve lived here for 50 years and don’t know any of my neighbours.”
The lesson that was left with our team was – regardless of how busy you are, make time for others. There are people out there, including our own family members (especially the elderly) who really value a social connection with those around them. What may be a small block of time in your week may be priceless act of generosity for someone like Susan.