5274 Scotts Valley Dr., #102 Scotts Valley, CA 95066 831-430-0616 www.VisitingAngels.com/CentralCoast 229 Reindollar Ave., Suite E Marina, CA 93933 831-392-0876
The Art of Making Friends I n my experience, one of the most unexpected challenges seniors face is the challenge of making new friends. When my grandmother was alive, her world of relationships got smaller as she got older. Eventually, Gram was the only one left in her social circle. In addition to grieving the loss of friends and loved ones, Gram also struggled with loneliness and depression, so much so that I realized I needed to come visit her more often. I also alerted my cousin who lived in the same town as Gram and asked her to make an effort to visit more often. We both loved our Gram, but we were busy with our own lives and sometimes didn’t realize how long it had been between visits. why not volunteer at an after- school program or with an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters? What Happens When We Outlive Our Friends?
Many seniors grapple with spiritual issues as they get
older; maybe they are questioning their beliefs or want a deeper connection within themselves. Becoming more active in one’s church or finding a new church can be beneficial. Usually a minister is available to talk with parishioners, or there may be a class available. Visiting Angels caregivers are not family, counselors, or clergy, but they can play an important role by listening to the care recipient and asking questions. People are meant to be together and to support one another. If you have a loved one in your life who is lonely or isolated, reach out. Try to spend more time with them, help them join a senior center or church group, and, last but not least, acknowledge that you see they are lonely and ask them to share their experiences with you. Acknowledgment is sometimes more powerful and more healing than you can imagine.
Loneliness and isolation is something that many seniors experience on a daily basis. People need other people to talk about their life, their health issues, their families, and to reminisce about their lives; they want to tell stories and leave a legacy. Seniors who outlive their friends often find themselves with fewer people to talk to. Making friends as an adult can be challenging, and for seniors who have a hard time leaving the house, that challenge seems nearly impossible. Fortunately, there are many ways seniors can build connections with people. I have found that seniors who join a senior center have a large group of friends to choose from. There are people from many walks of life, and it’s almost certain to find a friend that you can talk to and confide in. I’ve also seen how, while many seniors enjoy people around their age that they have something in common with, there are some seniors who enjoy the company of younger people because they make them feel alive. If a senior center doesn’t seem appealing,
Cindy Saunders, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
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