Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Source: Straits Times
Feeling lonely? Look up your friends. Or get them to come over for a beer or mahjong. Don't fancy being at home? Take the car for a spin. Catch a movie. Have a meet-up over lunch. Join a club. The options are endless...if you are young, active and mobile.

But when you are in your 70s or 80s, and living alone either by choice or circumstance, social isolation and loneliness becomes a very real and serious issue. You realize many of your friends are no longer around. They have moved away or have passed on. Those that remain may be house-bound due to failing health, or have given up driving and can no longer drop by for a visit. Even your best buddy has become a social recluse. Soon you will be one too.

This is happening not just in Bangladesh, but in every country. Click here to read the full article.

Many from the older generation enter their twilight years lonely and alone. Where are their adult children? They have flown the nest and set up home elsewhere. If they are still living in the country, they may visit regularly. But if they have settled overseas, their parents will be lucky to get annual visits from them.

If you (or your elderly parents) are experiencing social isolation and loneliness, here are some suggestions:

  1. Get familiar with the public transport system. Learn how to use apps to book a cab. Or arrange for someone to provide transport for you.
  2. Adopt a pet or take up gardening. Looking after a dog or a plant helps to reduce the sense of loneliness.
  3. Join social or religious groups that organize regular activities to promote fellowship among the members.
  4. Learn to use the internet for social networking and staying in touch with family and friends.
  5. Above all, have a sense of purpose. It could be learning something new, volunteering for community service, or embarking on a project. 

Oftentimes older people decline invitations to go out, not because they prefer to remain alone at home, but more so because they may have a health problem that makes it inconvenient for them to go out. For example, they may suffer from incontinence, failing memory or poor hearing, all of which can cause some awkwardness in a social setting. Soon they develop a reluctance to go out and socialize.

Prolonged loneliness can result in depression, declining health, or worse, suicidal tendencies. If the signs are there, seek counselling. Help is always at hand  if we take the initiative to ask for it.

Blessed are couples that have each other in their old age. But there will come a time when one will go first before the other. When that day comes, loneliness will set in. Their children should be alert to this. They should ensure their surviving parent gets extra care and attention to prevent the onset of loneliness and social isolation.

No comments: