Thursday, January 22, 2009


New Beginnings
To wonderful older women: The holidays are over and now we can look at some new beginnings in the New Year. Have you made some resolutions? Let’s change them to dreams and bring them into reality. What do you really want to do this year? Are there some family relationships that need help and improvement? Is there something you always wanted to do but keep putting it off until you feel better, have more money, or have the time? Are you waiting for someone to call? Is there someone you need to apologize to or forgive for something? Do you need to allow more exercise into your life? Now is the time to do it. If not now, when? What are you waiting for? If you have been inactive for a while it may be hard to get started but let’s go. Pick one new thing to do this month and do it!

Baby Boomers: You too can make a resolution to acknowledge your older relatives Make some time for them. Schedule them into your week. Call them regularly, send emails, and make an effort to visit more often and include them in your lives. Find out how they are really getting along.

Behind Closed DoorsWhen I was interviewing women for the book Voices of Older Women, I met many active and talented ladies who found many new ways to find purpose in their lives after raising their families. I also met several who were not active and found it difficult to get out and do things. They were very lonely and isolated and hidden behind closed doors so to speak because they found it very hard to let their families know their situation.

The word I hear in my own community is that many older women are alienated from their families for many different reasons either geographically or emotionally. This separation has not been easily understood or accepted without hurt and not knowing how to solve the problem.

As I continue my volunteer work with a senior program that provides volunteer visitors to some of the more lonely, isolated seniors, I have the opportunity to meet many older persons, mostly women, who are living alone and are homebound for many different reasons. The one thing they many seem to have in common is loneliness. This loneliness can be a very pervasive, overcoming, and debilitating feeling. It causes a person to feel unwanted, unimportant, and forgotten, which is reinforced when no one calls or comes by to visit. One can spend many days thinking, and remembering sad events and it is hard to come up out of the doldrums because there seems to be no reason to do this.

The reason may be because one has recently lost a spouse or because one does not get out much because of disabilities or lack of transportation. Or it may be that they have moved away from their family home and friends and find it difficult to make more friends. In any event the result is they are home alone and lonely. Let’s face it – getting old alone is not good. Just when one needs socialization more than ever it disappears. One forgets how to be hospitable when there is no one to be hospitable with except the TV.
A person may even have family nearby, who are very busy with their own jobs and children and have forgotten to schedule in their older relative. The older person does not always let the family know how lonely she is. She kind of thinks that the family should know this and remember to call or stop in. Consequently, the communication stops and neither really know how the other is doing.

The visitor program matches the older person with a volunteer who visits once a week and provides the minimum of socialization but is sometimes a real life line to a person isolated and lonely behind closed doors. But it is a last resort to a major problem.
The problem is that there is a lack of honest communication between generations which leaves one person very lonely but also deprives both of learning about each other.

There is a need for communicating long before the older relative is totally alone and isolated. The family needs to know what to do if the older relative becomes ill. The older relative needs to be able to trust that the family will honor their wishes about long term care issues, finances, and living arrangements. This can only be done through early ongoing conversations. You can start the conversation now. Let’s remove the barriers to communication between the generations.

Next some community efforts at finding ways to communicate with each other.

Read more!