Several months ago, I launched an aging alone Facebook group. Members bring up hot topics like affordable housing and medical care, transportation concerns, and countering isolation. Housing ranks the number one challenge for people over 60. It is particularly important for women who are aging alone.
Everyone thinks that illnesses are the scariest things that you have to face as you get a little older. While cancer and Alzheimer’s are undoubtedly terrifying, there is a force that many women our age fear even more – social isolation.
My husband and I just watched, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.” Don’t listen to the less than flattering reviews – we were both rolling on the floor laughing. There is something about watching a big, loud, messy and interconnected family that triggers a primal wistfulness or a sweet nostalgia.
Living alone is a luxury for single people. In my case, I relish having total privacy. It’s because I grew up sharing a bedroom with a sibling. Then, I left home for college and moved into a dorm, only to share another small room.
One of the frustrating things about science is that the path to truth is often littered with contradictions. Drinking wine is good for you. Drinking wine is bad for you. Eggs will kill you. Eggs may save your life. Salt is good, salt is bad… Well, you get the idea.
If you’re anything like me, your life has probably been filled with pets of all kinds. The first animal I bought for my kids was a small turtle. Over the years, my family owned gerbils, cats, dogs, birds and even a sugar-glider.
Loneliness is a complex problem. For starters, being alone is not the same as being lonely. Our feelings of loneliness come from how we interpret our situation, not from the simple fact that we are by ourselves.
The Dalai Lama once wrote…
We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.
He’s right. From infancy on, humans need affection in order to live healthy and fulfilling lives. We don’t all need the same amount of affection – any more than we all need the same amount of food or sleep – but it’s a rare person indeed who can survive and thrive without sharing expressions of love.
By the time we reach our 60th birthday, most of us have experienced our fair share of heart-break and disappointment. Some of us have gone through a divorce. Others have simply learned the hard way that not everyone can be trusted with our feelings. Is it any wonder that we are cautious about letting new people into our lives?