Coping with loneliness and isolation is certainly possible, nobody needs to suffer alone, but loneliness does affect people differently and will require a change in mindset that some people will find easier than others.
Loneliness and isolation can happen to anyone and strike at any time for an infinite number of reasons. It's not related to any particular age group, demographic or gender, but there is an alarming trend that highlights that older people are suffering the most.
This is backed up by a study from AgeUK that revealed approximately 3.9 million older people living in the UK alone said that their television is their main source of company. Can you imagine what that figure is worldwide? - I dread to think...
So, what can be done to combat feeling lonely?
Rather than list ways of coping with loneliness, I instead put the question to our Senior Chatters community - here as some of their stories. Some are inspirational, some are motivating and some are cries for help.
Important! After reading this Blog (it's a long one), please post a comment in the comment section below and share it on social media. If we can help just one person it will be a worthwhile exercise
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time and contributed - I've been blown away with all the responses.
Coping with Loneliness and Isolation in Later Life
Senior Chatters Stories
I would try to extend my circle of friends by joining local clubs that might interest me. I'd hopefully get out and about as much as possible to release the happy endorphin's and, last but definitely not least, enjoy my membership with Senior Chatters. If ever I feel down a good natter with my online friends soon improves my mood and brightens up my day.
Coping with loneliness in later life starts with attitude. You can be in a crowd and feel lonely if someone you want to be with isn't there. You need to have an attitude of being in the moment and knowing you are exactly where you are meant to be. Look forward to new experiences and expect to learn something new from everyone you meet. Be interested in other people and not just your own world. By interacting with other people you may be able to help them with something on their journey.
Helping might be part of your destiny. Enjoy the ride, don't take life too seriously and share things that make your life easier. Don't burden people with your feelings of loneliness. Have fun and everyone will enjoy the party too
I actually wouldn’t want anyone else here with me except when there’s trouble brewing of some kind and then I'd love to have a shoulder to lean on and a strong chest to collapse onto to vent my sorrows.
So my suggestion on coping with loneliness and isolation would be to submerge one’s self in one or two beloved activities that are of the growing kind - that is to say creative endeavors which are open ended in terms of learning and developing.
A second way to beat loneliness is in later life is to keep busy with hobbies. This not only keeps one alert but gives something to share and to talk about with others.
A third possibility is to exercise frequently if not daily. In addition to keeping the body as fit as possible the whole person is helped by this exercise routine.
Another way to beat loneliness is to reach out to others. Sending Birthday Cards to relatives and friends or just writing with no special occasion in mind is positive. Using the computer to stay in contact is an excellent tool.
Feeling lonely is something I am struggling with now. My life exploded with tragedies which has caused many issues in life. I have 3 kids all adults living in different states - this is something I hadn't planned on. I hoped they would remain close so we could be nearer. I am having a problem deciding where I should live. There are many issues in that decision. At 57 it's frightening being alone. My kids say mom just make new friends, but people have their lives established and it's difficult. But I am working on rebuilding life.. I do have my kids and grand kids but I want my life too.
I would love to be able to speak with others like me. If there was a place to meet others with the same needs I'm sure it would be wonderful.
You must find a way to stay positive and seek out what you need. And first you have to be happy and comfortable with who you are. I found that along the way of raising my family I somehow lost myself. I became someone's wife and was called my kids mom. I really have struggled to find who I have become. Working on myself I am trying new things, branching myself out in anything that grabs my interest. Also, I am going to join the red cross. I'm a RN and have wanted to assist in tragedies. Helping the homeless in this area, and volunteering with dog rescue are things I really want to be involved in. Putting effort in to these things helps me feel like I am truly finding my place in life. It is a struggle someday's, but I know wonderful things are coming.
My advice on coping with loneliness in later life would be, first and foremost, to get out as much as possible. Even small things like a trip to the local library, or a bus ride into town for a look around and a coffee would give the feeling of being with people.
Sometimes one can have a conversation. It doesn't have to be about rocket science. Even the very ordinary folk have their story to tell. Some people find comfort and company in their local church. I think there are a lot more opportunities, possibilities to mix socially, than here in Germany.
I found myself widowed 12 years ago, aged 58, and the first years were rough. A year later I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had to go through the procedure on my own, without the support and love of my husband. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and I got through the treatment, my hair started to grow again, and I knew I had to make an effort to start living again. I travelled alone, within my possibilities, bed and breakfast in England, flying over from different airports and getting to know and use, the erratic bus services in GB.
Here in Germany I would take myself off to the afternoon session at a cinema, so as to be home before dark. I would go on buses and trams to different parts of the city, that I didn't know, have lunch somewhere, and then come home. I realise of course, that it all depends on mobility, and my heart goes out to those who are restricted in that way. But again, I praise the social kindness that is in England. It is just not to be found here,although some would disagree.
After five years living alone I had a relationship with a Dutchman, also widowed. It lasted six years, although it meant over 300 kilometres for him to travel, to see me. He decided that it couldn't go on any longer,so we separated. A year ago I met a widowed ex policeman, and we are happy together. We don't live together, we both have lovely homes and neither wants to give up their home yet. We will see how things go. Well this is my story, a bit longer than I intended. I would advise people living alone to go out and about and try your hardest to make the best out of life, take the ups and downs as they come. They are a fact of life. Best wishes from JanieLee.
With a stick, how else does one beat anything! As you can see I think humor helps, aside from humor, I would say if you can go places and meet other people. It helps if you are interested in hearing people's stories. Listening to others talk gives you a connection to them it forms a bond, which in my thinking is the beginning of feeling less lonely.
Interestingly I am dealing with this problem at this time. I have 2 grown children, but my son moved to Roanoke Virginia, so I do not see him often. We do Skype often and that does help. I have a daughter with manic depression (on meds and doing well) and rheumatoid arthritis. She does the best she can to set some time aside for me, but I am frequently lonely, as I always had people in my house, and now it is empty.
I also have 9 nieces and nephews, who were always here celebrating holidays and birthdays. Now it is as if I do not exist. I don't understand this. People will tell you "WELL " THEY HAVE THEIR OWN LIVES NOW", but so did I when they were growing up. I had to work full time and raise my own children, but they were always here for parties and such. So I do not buy that line of thinking.
I have started reaching out to groups and have been very lucky to find some great people. I have joined some clubs for knitting and crocheting and even a group called "Homemakers" where we do do some adult crafts and have lots of laughs. There is even a church group I have joined. We served community dinners. These are my suggestions so far.
So, over the many years since, I linked up with my mother who had gone through a divorce from my stepfather and we shared a house together. I was always very close to her so it was no hardship. In fact, it was fun and we became good friends as well as mother and daughter. We had many laughs together. She passed away in 2006 and it was really the first time I had been on my own for any lengthy period of time. I had travelled and worked overseas in the interim but I always had our home to come back to.
This new period was when I felt loneliness. I pined for the things that had never been, children and then grandchildren, other members of my family who had passed and, of course, my mother. I fell into a very deep grief which lasted about three years. I had a half-sister who I had never had a good relationship with and each time we met, we clashed as our personalities were so different and our experiences were so different, so we kept pretty clear of one another, especially when my mother died. She did not grieve as I did and I found that insufferable.
However, once I mastered my grief and learned to live with it, I started to get to know my half-sister better. It took a lot of time and neither of us tried particular hard to overcome our differences but we did just begin to appreciate each other’s qualities over about ten years. It took that long! I now see her often. I guess you could say we gave each other a second chance.
The other thing that happened was that I had searched most of my life for my father who I had never met except when I was a baby. During my grieving period, I decided to try and find him and contacted the Salvation Army Lost Persons Bureau. They found him for me and I started to correspond with him; I, in Australia, and he still in the UK. I eventually went over to meet him which was wonderful.
He passed away shortly after my visit which made me realise how precious time can be. As a side piece, he told me all about his sister who lived in Lisbon and her daughters. I managed to find my auntie and we communicated by letter and phone for a couple of years, which was lovely. She introduced me to her daughters who are roughly around my age or a little younger. My auntie died two years ago but the email relationship with her daughters has continued and we now consider ourselves good friends as well as cousins!
So, looking back, life can never been the same as before, no, but if you look hard enough, you can cobble together a new life. My cousins have grown up children and grandchildren and I do get the odd twinge of wishing that could be me, too, but we have such laughs in our emails that I am just grateful for their friendship. I don’t know if there is anything in this that could be helpful to others, Rob, but that’s my story (very much summarised).
The second time was when my wife took our two daughters and the dog for a weekend at a cottage where she had worked all summer. It was only a few kilometers away but I remember being so lonely at the house. I guess the silence was too much to bear; I was used to a lot of noise. Then I could add the time after the divorce which was a time where I had no focus on life. When I think about it now, I felt most lonely when I was feeling 'not needed'. The miracle that changed my life was the birth of my first granddaughter. Suddenly everything came back in focus for me. Since I've been on Senior Chatters, I have had help from a member a few years back. I appreciate the chats that we had and it was needed at the time. As many members say, Senior Chatters is a good place to be if you feel lonely. It is a friendly place.
First promoting the County`s first Cancer Support group, being there and ready to share in the trauma of others, uplifting on those days of a bleak diagnoses, or further treatments, days when some felt like handing in the towel, and indeed on days when the group faced yet another death. That then whetted my appetite to go a few steps further in reaching out to these needy dear ones and on meeting a like minded colleague,in time, through sheer hard work and a lot of diligent planning, getting people on our side, going cap in hand to companies whom could and would donate generously, my great desire for my county. A Cancer Centre was eventually formed.
This required more hours than we could give and kept us busy from dawn to dusk, there was no time for loneliness, just energy to keep on going and giving!! However, when my colleague lost her battle and my own health was again fast deteriorating there came that dreaded time when I had to walk away from my active duty at this Cancer Centre, although still able to keep in touch, it just did not quite fit the gap that was now forming in my life. It was then I returned to College to learn the rudiments of computing, which in turn brought me into discovering these Forums ,and now although more bed bound than house bound, whilst not Hospitalised, it still gives me a modicum of connection with the world.
I have formed several groups/threads in differing Forums so that I have more than enough activity to fill every lonely corner, I run a Cancer and Life threatening thread which has brought much solace to many sufferers. But for me personally, I have made a whole new batch of lovely friends the world over,especially here on Senior Chatters.and I can truly say, hand on heart, I have no time to be lonely.
Loneliness is a concept I have never understood as I have always been a loner. I am introverted and do not relate well to people at all. Part of the reason for this is that I have Asperger's Syndrome. I prefer my own company.
Very rarely I get lonely, you just have to keep your mind active be grateful for all you have re: family. One thing I do miss is being closer to my grandkids; my husband and I seemed to be working most of the time when they were young making a better life for everyone, but would have preferred the way my gran was, really family orientated, close, you could feel the love and she struggled to raise her family. I'm afraid you have to try and enjoy life as much as you can. I had one close friend from school days that I have lost and also my husband died suddenly. Yes one does get lonely.
I work night shifts in a job where I see no-one, so I speak to no-one, I come home to no-one so speak to no-one, when I am off work I go to the shop and apart from someone saying "would you like a bag" and me responding with "no thanks" I speak to no-one. I am the invisible man. There is no point in me walking into a pub or a drink or a meal as I know no-one and the experience is uncomfortable. But after being like this for over 30 years I am used to it and if someone happens to speak to me I struggle to remember how to speak. On the plus side if I ever got washed up on a desert island it would not affect me in the least.
Well i get more lonely as the days go by. I moved to Texas 11 years ago because I thought the man I was with wanted me. But he only wanted a person to take care of his house and cook, and take care of his two daughters that have mental problems. He says that what women are here to take care of a man and the home. I want to go back to Florida to see my kids and grand kids and great grand kids. I have a lot of love and caring to give if i ever find the right person to share it with - I pray.
Where I live it's now part care home. Most never leave thier flats and those who do have degree's of dementia - I miss talking to people. Have been here many years and it was my contact outside of my four walls, I love the site and I hope now its getting nearer to winter more people will stay. It's a good site and has served us well all these years and counting that members come back again.
I usually go out to see a friend and/or I go shopping to help relieve any form of loneliness. I usually call my sister or a friend when needing someone to talk to. I spend a lot of time alone due to husband's work hours and it helps to have someone to reach out to at times like these.
I'm somewhat lucky in that respect as I have a wife. If you are alone but still mobile then get out there, into town or anywhere there are people to chat to. I go and meet old work friends and friends from my old video club , so we can have a good old natter at a coffee sop in town. One thing though, if you are on a chat site like this, and you are married make sure your other half knows what you're doing.
I don't need to beat loneliness. After raising a large family and also helping raise grandies until they went to school I crave time on my own. My fortnightly shopping expedition is about the only time I mix with other people and I do that as fast as I can. As i get older that may change then I will go out and seek the company of others by socializing at a place where people congregate but at this stage I'm quite content with my own company and that of family who tend to turn up at unexpected moments.
I told you there were a lot of posts 🙂 If you are struggling with loneliness then hopefully a few of these posts will help?