We wanted to share a success story with you. It’s about Gerry, an older gentleman whose wife had health issues and could no longer accompany him going out.
When they moved to a seniors’ community, Gerry had a lot to get used to.
He found himself stuck and lonely, without social life, and he decided to do something about it. He’s not the usual guy. In his working years, he was used to his wife arranging the week’s events, and reaching out to make friends. He noticed other men in the community like himself, some of them eating alone. It just didn’t feel right. He took a risk. He reached out and offered friendship to one of them. That led to a third fellow joining them and deciding maybe they should form a group.
Many of them, like Gerry had always depended on their wives to arrange social activities. They felt awkwardness in getting a social calendar moving. The feelings of isolation and loneliness can become depressing for men and women alike who do not have ready connections. In some senior communities, particularly those with shared cultural, religious or other values, the atmosphere is right to connect. But someone must take leadership to make those connections. When Gerry reached out the first time and started a conversation with another guy, he was showing leadership.
Gerry lives at NewBridge on the Charles, a Hebrew SeniorLife (HSL) community just outside Boston which is an independent living seniors’ community.
He and his first two friends invited others to form a men’s club. The idea caught on. It works. Over 100 men come together every month to learn from one another and for fun and conversation. It helps male residents form special bonds, share a laugh or two, play pool or simply be guys. They have their own group, whether they are married or single.
“The Men’s Club at NewBridge has helped the men here form new friendships and to share their knowledge and life experiences to the appreciation and amazement of the other men in the club” says founder, Gerry Sands.
Here at AgingParents.com, we hear about isolated elders from many of their adult children who worry about the long term effects of too much alone time. They have reason to be concerned. If there is one thing to remember, it is that isolation is not good for anyone at any age. We are meant to be social to some extent. But not everyone has Gerry’s initiative.
What if your aging parent doesn’t start things, and doesn’t take the first step? As their adult children, we can help. Many of us are more adept at internet research than our aging parents. We can usually do the research and locate community groups, senior centers and clubs faster than our aging loved ones. We can find transportation, especially in urban settings, for those who do not drive. We can help them find an option, suggest it, and if we live nearby, accompany them to check our their first meeting.
People who make positive social connections have fewer health problems, live longer and enjoy more satisfying lives. You can encourage your parent to try a new group or join a club. Don’t wait for them to ask you for that help. You can offer it. Try again later if they decline at first.
With increasing longevity, our loved ones can outlive their spouses and most or all of their friends. They may need our encouragement to make their way to new relationships that protect and sustain them. Those new connections can also make them happier and less dependent on YOU.
If your aging parent is withdrawn, isolated or particularly if he or she has recently lost a spouse, there is much to think about and decide how much to offer your parent. We are here as a resource for you. Set up a 15 minute complimentary consultation at AgingParents.com, just Click HERE today.