What does it mean to be old? Older? Elderly?
What does it do to our options for getting out, finding others to interact with, and living a full life?
What does it do for the choices we might (have to) make?
I just read an article in a local newspaper about a woman who’s 84 (just a few years older than I am), who’s lonely and hoping to find a special man to be with. She had a partner for nearly 30 years who died a couple of years ago, and she’d like to have someone in her life again.
I can understand that. Most of us enjoy at least some contact with others, right? And many do want a life partner to live with.
But for many seniors, life has changed over the years.
Many friends and family members are gone, leaving us behind. While we’re usually happy to be alive, it certainly can get lonely without those who used to be such an important part of our life.
Our health may present challenges that we hadn’t expected, imposing limits on our activity.
Driving might not be as easy as it was; actually, driving at night might not be a great idea at all. So getting out might seem more difficult – may be more difficult – than it was even 10 years earlier.
She mentioned finding a dating service online, so clearly she has some ability with the internet and the gumption to try. Sad to say, it didn’t work out for her. The service had no men in her age range to suggest.
In her self-description, she mentioned she “spends most days alone reading and watching TV in her condo.”
You know what idea struck me?
You know what word struck me?
If she lived way out in the country, I could see how restricted her life might be. Even in some towns or cities, getting around might not be too easy for her.
But a condo suggests something else: A community with opportunities to meet others who live right around her. Possibly a condo BOD that can/does plan activities for its residents. Or other residents who do.
I currently live in my third condo community, and it has a very lively group of residents who do plan activities of all sorts. I don’t join in too many, but that isn’t the point. Events are always happening, and they are great opportunities for many who live here to meet others. There’s a real village vibe here!
The article didn’t say if this woman’s condo community was for all ages or for seniors, but so what? Age doesn’t always have to be the determining factor for activity.
Her ability to use the internet could still help her to find others to chat with around the world, even in countries she’s not familiar with. If she doesn’t already know how to use Zoom or another face-to-face platform, maybe someone she knows could help. It’s not as good as in-person meetups, but it’s surely one way to stay connected with others.
Someone who’s lonely could also realize that others might be, too, and see if there would be ways to start groups – card games (bridge/canasta/other), health-related activities like yoga or other forms of exercise. (Here in my village a friend started an outside “Chair Yoga” group twice a week in a field right next to several homes for as long as the good weather holds. It’s HUGELY popular!)
Even just walking around the community can give many a physical, emotional, and mental health boost.
I know nothing about this woman – her physical, monetary, or emotional limitations – other than what the article mentioned, but it seems she’s narrowed her focus so much to finding a life partner that she’s missing out on other excellent options for her life. I hope she can see that it’s still possible to meet others, and it could start with a choice to open her door and leave her apartment.
Walk down the hall.
Open the front door to the outside in this gorgeous weather and interact with those who are also outside.
Widen her focus from a life partner to different kinds of connections.
Take full advantage of what that condo community might offer.
Choose to make her life full and interesting.
What are your thoughts, folks? What might you suggest for others who are aging but still want to live a full life?