January is a lonely month for many older persons in Richmond Hill. Following Christmas which, even during the Coronavirus, is an active, social time, especially with family, many seniors then often spend days and weeks without speaking to another person. Imagine turning the television and the radio on, just that so you can hear someone else’s voice. Imagine staring out of the window, looking at your neighbours getting on with their lives, reminiscing of a time when your life was full of everyday activities. Imagine feeling deeply alone and isolated. (1)
In my work with Living Assistance Services, we match seniors and their own circumstances in Richmond Hill with trained personal support workers (PSWs), who help them remain where they desperately want to stay--happy and safe in their own very comfortable home—and not lonely! And, I meet so many lonely seniors who need our help with not only daily living but also companionship to combat their loneliness at home. Do you know a lonely senior?
Not so long ago, I met Janet, 82 years old, who had lived happily in her home in Richmond Hill for 35 years, including the last eight years after her Husband, Robert, had passed. But, Janet’s life had changed when she had to go to the hospital for a hip operation, such a common occurrence for the elderly these days. This operation for Janet had serious repercussions—physically and psychologically. She turned inward into herself and she spent two months in the hospital.
Finally, Janet was driven to her home by her family whose members lived some distance away. Mostly alone, she became depressed and started to experience anxiety attacks. She withdrew from life and doing the things she loved. Janet did not leave her home for weeks; she did not go out and meet her friends; and, she did not have a computer and had only the radio or the television to keep her marginally stimulated. Janet was terribly lonely.
”Sometimes loneliness is not a choice but a reality forced on us. Life changing events such a hip operation but also retirement, the death of a loved one, the loss of independence as a result of poor health, all can affect our well-being—physically and psychologically. As we get older, we are more vulnerable to these life events leading us to withdraw from social situations further and thus to isolation” (2).
So, how do you help your lonely, loved one--anyone, in fact-- in such a circumstance? Part Two will explore some possible solutions to this predicament.
- Kousoulis, Dr. Antony. Gillian's story: overcoming loneliness. Mental Health Association (UK), 2020.
Submitted to www.OnRichmondhill.com by Brian Porter.
For advice about seniors and care at home, please kindly contact Brian Porter, Director and Owner of Living Assistance Services (LAS), at 416.483.0070 (ofﬁce), 905.758.2486 (cell) or [email protected] and visit www.laservices.ca