How to Overcome Loneliness

Post date: Dec 11, 2016 8:29:8 PM

How to Overcome Loneliness

When I was a young man I distinctly remember being asked by my soon-to-be-wife “What worries you the most about getting old?” I laughed it off at the time, but now I feel like I shouldn’t have. Recently a survey was done which asked that very question, and the results sobered me. Because it seems that within that question lingers many other questions. Will I be cared for properly? Will my grandchildren grow up in a safe and stable world? Will I lose important memories? These are frightening ideas to have to face alone. However, unfortunately, a great deal of us do face them alone. Loneliness – the crushing feeling of simply having no-one to talk to or laugh with - is a big problem for the elderly. It has even been called an “epidemic”.

Sadly I too have experienced this “epidemic”. After my wife died, as you can imagine, I didn’t much feel like socialising. Plus my children and grandchildren lived far away, I was not religious so I didn’t have a church community, and I was retired from my job. All of a sudden there was no-one there whom I could talk to. It was a distressing downward spiral.

However, I managed to pull myself out of it. It wasn’t always easy, but I was terrified of my loneliness turning into a depression that would be even harder to pull myself out of. Here’s what helped me.

Modern technology

You might not think it whilst watching your grandchildren stare at their phones like addicts, but use of cellphones and laptops actually increases mental wellbeing amongst the elderly. I was lucky to be able to take advantage of this, as I owned a laptop. Once I had it connected to the Internet (which it had not been in some time) I was able to use it to seek out others in my situation. This was my first real step back into socialising again.

Gradually I made a few “pen pals” who I would communicate with via email and also via letter every now and again. We even sent each other photos of our gardens, houses, and grandchildren! Though I have yet to meet any of my pen pals face to face, I have seen enough pictures and learned enough about them to make them feel like people I have known all my life.

Adopting a pet

Pets are highly recommended as a great way to combat loneliness. I have to admit I didn’t think I had the energy to adopt a dog, so I decided to adopt a cat instead. They don’t require walking and come and go as they please! I adopted one from a local animal shelter and though she had been through a lot in her young life she has proved to be a loyal and adorable companion.

Joining a group

To my delight, when I looked around I found a lot of social groups in my home town of Leicester which could cater to me. Although I had long thought my football days were behind me, I found a leisure centre which provided Walking Football, something I ended up taking a lot of pleasure in. I also found that many local businesses and centres threw open their doors for Christmas Day to ensure no-one was alone on the holidays, an act of kindness which I would encourage everyone who needs it to take advantage of.

Finding a hobby

Doing something that you enjoy, alongside other people who also enjoy it, can help keep your mind stimulated and active. In my hometown so far I have discovered both a film group and a gardening group filled with lovely people. I’ve seen a lot of good films and grown a lot of new flowers! Me and my new friends have also gone on excursions to the Richard III Discovery Centre in Leicester town central and the nearby National Space Centre, deepening our interests in history and science!

If you are worried about getting old remember that though it is natural, it is a process best faced in a group rather than alone. And if you think you may be suffering from depression, please go visit your local doctor. They, and many others, will be able to help you!

Kelsey Tedeschi