A lonely woman. Aren’t these powerful, dare I say, almost ugly words? Conjuring up someone pathetic, perhaps? Someone you probably don’t want to know?
I listened to a program about loneliness and was struck by how much of it there is in society today. We’ve become isolated by the very technology that was designed to connect us.
Over the last few decades, governments across the world have taken an increasingly active role in promoting public health. They encourage flu shots, help to coordinate responses to epidemics, invest in basic science and more specialized medical research and create a safety net for low income families that need access to doctors.
We can be sailing along just fine – independent, self-contained, pursuing our own interests, plenty of friends, regular contact with family members, and then boom! – the holidays come upon us and we feel like our ship starts to sink.
The holidays aren’t always a happy time – for some they’re reminders that they are lone, whether they’re widowed, divorced, separated or simply away from family and friends. Add grief to that and it’s even more difficult. Loneliness is painful.
A new study saying that loneliness and social isolation are a major health hazard is no surprise to millions of people who are alone and lonely. Not having the fundamental human experience of connectedness is painful and even dangerous, especially if you are older.
The concept of aging alone occurred to me after helping my older parents with challenges like cleaning the house, meal preparation, shopping, driving to doctor’s appointments and medical treatments, and even managing medications.
As we age, we become more and more aware of our health and what our bodies need for us to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We try to eat better. We try to exercise. We try to take our vitamins and drink more water. But could we be missing out on something that impacts our health even greater?
Women are worriers by nature. We worry about our families, our friends and our future. Those of us who live alone have learned to be independent – but that doesn’t stop us from worrying about the years ahead.