ELDER MUSIC: Boccherini
A TGB READER STORY: Love Thy Neighbor, Over the Fence

Elder Loneliness in the Era of Pandemic

Whatever fairy tales the president of the United States repeats about a vaccine, the world has only three imperfect defenses against the COVID-19 virus: wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands.

What that means for millions of old people - the age cohort that dies in the largest numbers from the virus - is to stay home alone.

”I try to remember that I’m one of the lucky ones in all this,” 75-year-old Gloria Jackson who lives in Minnesota, told the Washington Post in May. “What do I have to complain about? I’m not dead. I’m not sick. I haven’t lost my job or gone broke.

“I’m bored and I’m lonely, and so what? Who’s really going to care about my old-lady problems? Lately, when I see people talking about the elderly, it’s mostly about how many of us are dying off and how we’re forcing them to shut down the economy.

“I tell myself I should be more positive. I should be grateful. Sometimes I can make that last for an hour or two,” she says.

She is not being unreasonable. We are all stuck in this hard place for an unknown length of time to come.

Experts have been telling us for years that there is an epidemic of loneliness among old people due to social isolation. Among the health risks are high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.

Now, the three rules of dealing with COVID-19 exacerbate those risks while increasing the number of elders who are vulnerable.

Solutions provided by experts in my admittedly limited survey are mostly what you would expect. Here are the most common with some personal commentary.

Regular Zoom (or whatever platform you prefer) visits with family members or friends.

Although it would not be considered a social visit, I like this for medical check-ins. I read of two women who, before the virus, had met at a coffee shop each morning to do The New York Times crossword puzzle together. They now continue on Zoom.

Last week, I joined my previous in-person current affairs discussion group via Zoom for the first time. It is a smaller group now – six or seven people. I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt more energized than usual when we were finished.

A drawback to computer-assisted visiting is that some elders do not use a computer or are not confident enough to set up an online meeting. But there is the old-fashioned solution for that:

Telephone visits. I regularly talk with east coast friends by telephone, which we have been doing for all the years since I left.

Some are regularly-scheduled appointments, others are more ad-hoc but frequent enough that it is not exceptional – more like we just haven't had time in the past week or two to get together.

Some organizations throughout the United States make a point to telephone their members regularly. Where I live, the Adult Community Center does that and in some towns and cities, people who deliver Meals on Wheels make time to stay and chat for awhile – at a distance from one another, of course.

If you shop for an elder, dropping off the groceries can be an opportunity to stick around and visit for a bit. During good weather, a porch, if it is large enough to keep a distance, can provide a nice spot to sit and talk.

Everyone likes surprises and another idea I found is to drop off favorite foods or candies or a jigsaw puzzle if that is an interest, and so on.

Schedule, personal care and exercise. These seem to me to be especially important in maintaining a positive attitude while living under virus restrictions.

Getting out of bed at the same time as BV (Before Virus). Showering regularly, exercising regularly. If you cannot get out and walk, there are many workout routines for various levels of capability to follow along on television and on the internet.

And it helps a lot to focus on the current moment. That's not always easy for me: what should I write about for Monday's TGB? Do I have all the notes I need for a video meeting with my palliative care provider? But I work on it.

Because I control pain (and general well-being) by taking medications at certain times of day, I'm unlikely to break the schedule. Pain – or, rather, avoiding it – is a great motivator.

In addition to all the video and telephone calls, I have hospice home visits at least twice a week in my home. We both wear masks, keep our distance and wash our hands a lot.

Also, once a week, my neighbor and I spend a couple of hours in the afternoon on her lovely deck sitting six or eight feet apart. A little wine, some cheese and crackers and good conversation.

All of that doesn't count daily emails from friends, blog acquaintances and a variety of inquiries regarding TGB.

Plus there are your comments – I read every one of them, almost always on the day they arrive. It is another form of conversation and I learn as much from you as I do from other sources. It has been more than 16 years and I cannot imagine my life without the blog and you.

Now it is your turn. What is your experience with loneliness during this terrible time and how do you deal with it? What recommendations do you have? The virus isn't going anywhere any time soon. We must learn to live as well as we can and as safely as we can.

Remember: Whatever else, wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands.

Comments

Many of your good suggestions assume that we actually
have friends and family to connect with . What about those of us who do not?

I'm fortunate in having a husband who, if our parents, grandparents, and health statuses foretell our fates, will outlive me by 10-15 years. Each of us is more-or-less a loner; thus, although we pretty much each stay in our own part of the house 90% of the time, we don't get lonely. I feel for those who do.

I am learning to imagine the pandemic as the perfect monastic experience. I'm high risk, so stay at home and connect with a few friends by phone and Zoom, and with two sons in person every once in a while. Consequently, a vast space has opened up for me work on a serious reckoning of my own life in preparation for my own inevitable death. I'm almost 80, so if the virus doesn't get me, my underlying conditions probably will.

The reckoning for me has meant working through many issues of forgiveness, of self and others, and making amends as best I can to those I have hurt along the way. I've used Bishop Tutu's Book of Forgiving as a guide, and leaned on other supportive folks along the way. It's a hard and beautiful process, and gets right down to the core of being a human.

I don't believe I would have ever done this work without the cocoon of isolation imposed by the pandemic. I also would not have grappled with the surge of writings and information on the Black Lives Matter issues or cleaned out my catch-all closet. This is not written in praise of the pandemic - it's just my answer to the question Ronni raised about "now what?"

Although I do not live alone, my husband has difficulty walking and our interests are different. But we do get together in the morning to watch the news over our morning coffee and then again at 6 to watch the news then Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and then some Netflix or Amazon Prime movie until 10. Oh, the sameness of these quarantine nights.
My dog keeps me busy with walks and on these walks we meet our neighbors and sometimes a stranger who will turn into an acquaintance. He loves to meet people and actually cries if someone will not pet him. His name is Vito and he is a 4 year old Maltipoo. He was a surrender dog we adopted at the local humane society.

Thank you, Ronni, for sharing your journey.
As an Elder Orphan, I’m used to living alone, no spouse or children. At 70, I also fear the virus and have been staying home a lot. I was doing ok with the isolation because I have a supportive Family of Choice, but when my 99 yr old father died in a nursing home on June 25, I couldn’t travel out of state to see him. Two weeks later my beloved aunt died of Alzheimer’s at 92, and her husband of 60 years, my father’s brother, died a week later at 96.
Everyone always says wow you have good genes you will probably live to be 90. I have no desire to live to be 90. I feel I will be lucky to make it to 71.
I went numb when my uncle died. Had to retreat after losing it on calls with attorneys, insurance agents...
The political situation is making me so angry, and sad. Wondering how long I can maintain this altered lifestyle. Miss my friends, the library, bookstores, going out to lunch, day trips to the coast...
Some days are better than others, sleep is elusive, watching way too much Netflix, etc.
One good thing I’ve started doing is gardening...limited to containers on my condo deck...and I’m grateful I have a cozy, safe place to live.
One must have hope to plant a garden, so I guess I’m not hopeless yet.💕

I have been using the time to focus on not drinking. Binge drinking has been a struggle for several years. I listen to podcasts (Recovery Elevator is a favorite) and spend time on the Smart Recovery website studying the science-based tools they have to fight addictive behaviors (all kinds). They have an online forum and online meetings that have also been helpful. I am really enjoying this opportunity to deal with a long-standing problem.

I really hate the way I feel during this pandemic! I've been trying to downsize to move into a continuum care campus next year where I have a deposit down on a new unit under construction. The pandemic has halted their progress when our state got shut down,. Goodwill and local auction houses closed as well and I;m having trouble keeping myself from stressing out.

I also miss the activities I used to do at the senior hall which have been canceled through September. I miss just being able to go out on the spur-of-the-moment to my favorite place to have lunch and people watch. I've been in a restaurant just once since March and it didn't feel the least bit safe. Even though the staff were all wearing my friends and I were not. Ya, I'm depressed but the only saving grace in that statement is that I'm not alone and it has nothing to do with being elderly. pandemic driven depression is hitting all age groups.

I live in a retirement community (aka old people's dormitory) with about 250 other people. It means if I go to wash my clothes or get the mail I see folks for convos. I started a ukulele band. We have zoom lessons weekly. We also meet once/wk with folks who sing or play weird instruments (kazoo, washboard, washtub bass). We record funny songs (or inspirational songs) using Acapella so we can maintain 6 ft distances apart but apparently be together.

I attend the Unitarian Universalist fellowship small groups by Zoom and Sunday services there and elsewhere via Facebook Live. Still, I sometimes miss going out to lunch with specific friends. And doing anything spontaneous.

This is simplistic perhaps, but when I feel lonely, I reach out; i.e., call/message someone with a question, call/message to check on someone, offer to help with something, etc. Most contacts lead to conversations beyond the original reason. Waiting for someone to contact me is asking for more loneliness. It's not that nobody cares, but if you're not out there, they may assume you like it that way. From experience with my parents I know some elders tend to wait for things/contacts to come to them lest they be a bother. Also, key to this is to be a good listener. Ask questions that require more than a yes or no and don't fear a moment of silence in the conversation to allow each other to collect thoughts. I find it off-putting to be the one doing all the listening so those aren't the type of people I contact out of the blue. I usually feel better after even a short visit.

I have always loved living alone with my dog. My life was full with friends, hiking,, and work, meeting clients in person and socializing on weekends. In the beginning of the shut down, I looked forward to the excuse to stay home, meditate more, read, and the solitude. Now, 149 days in, I am experiencing aloneness, loneliness and likely low grade depression (thank you, Michelle) due to the absence of touching, physical presence and closeness with others. I'm watching my thoughts, the one's that want to pull me down a rabbit hole of self pity. Also, I was recently diagnosed with a genetic mutation that requires me to take a low dose oral chemo drug...which I am struggling over. Never been one to medicate, and the belief that healthy diet and exercise prevails..however, this has put me in a place of experiencing my own temporality, and feeling more alone during this time. I travel when I can, went to a cabin in the mountains this weekend for a change of landscape, and read...visit with neighbors during dog walks, and, thanks to all the meditation practice I've had, know that when I feel heavy or more down than usual, that this too will pass.

Hi, Ronni! I've been living alone for decades--no husband, no kids. I've always enjoyed your columns that argue that living alone is, in and of itself, not necessarily a bad thing.

I've been doing well at age 68. I'm healthy - I can walk and garden and clean. And my sister and I are close emotionally, although not in worldview. My heart goes out to people like Chris Ebbage; I've known people who are truly without family, and it looks to me like a very difficult place. Anyway, my sister and I talk almost daily and visit outside, socially distancing, about once a week.

It helps hugely that I read. A lot. Sometimes I joke that the reason I stayed single is so I can read undisturbed at meals. When this started, I bought myself a Kindle so I could download e-books. I just bought three non-fiction books from a local indie bookstore that I hope will survive; one book is The Great Influenza, by John Barry. Did you know - the election of 1876 was a bigger mess than this one? And that's just the first chapter!

I'm a joiner. I've taken on two projects for volunteer groups I belong to, especially with an eye toward the upcoming winter here in Buffalo, NY, when going outdoors will be a challenge.

What I don't have is friends, defining "friends" as "people who invite you to do things with them." I don't know what the problem is...surely I can't be that difficult? Or can I? or am I just boring? Anyway, one way I get around it is to suck it up and reach out to people who are alone. Also, Facebook has been, for me, a huge way to feel like I'm talking to people all day long, and also to follow some interesting groups, like Navigating Aging and Slow Medicine. And of course, too-long posts like this one.

Like Nancy Dandro's Vito, my dog misses contact with people. He used to love our walks and the attention he got; nowadays we cross the street to avoid getting near other people, and he's much less enthused about the whole enterprise.

I have, through a combination of dumb luck, frugality, and the occasional smart move, enough money to be comfortable, barring a catastrophe. I, too, remind myself I'm one of the lucky ones - I don't have to worry about either losing my job or getting sick from doing it. I'm not the mother who's watching her 18-year-old head off to a college dorm, or the kid who's spent his whole life practicing his sport only to find he can't play it. The stress involved with trying to decide to send your kid to school must be enormous.

I get lonely, and of course I miss dining out with friends (usually I make the call!). I miss shopping much more than I expected to. I miss striking up conversations with strangers, always one of my favorite things. I've become competent at Instacart, which involves lowering my expectations considerably. I piddle away too many hours playing online Solitaire. But all in all, I'm so, so grateful for everything I do have. And, as an older, newly widowed neighbor told me many years ago: "There are worse things than being lonely...although there are some days I'll be damned if I know what they are."

I do find myself wailing from time to time, but I’ve pretty much kept my sadness at bay with a couple of volunteer assignments. There are online meetings a few times per month with researchers, clinicians, and “patient experts” who advise on ways to keep patient need in studies. Separately, I’m working on some (Zoom) courses for a lifelong learning organization. And there is reading, writing, and television, together with a smattering of calls to friends here and there.
All in all, I guess I’m fairly busy, but I miss the regular lunches or coffee stops with my friends. Truth is, I’m saving money this way. Guess I’ll go wash my hands.

My husband and I live in Ontario, Canada where COVID seems more contained than in the US. Nonetheless, we take nothing for granted as both of us are in our 70s and 80s with underlying medical conditions. Loneliness hits from time to time although visits with our two grandchildren and occasional 'happy hour' dates over zoom with friends provide a diversion.
I know that fear and anxiety cause irritability on some days; on other days, apathy hits.
What bothers me most is the uncertainty of the pandemic. How long will this threat last? How long will I be displaced from the routines that I cherished? Will it be another 12 or 18 months as some experts predict? Who may be carrying the virus while presenting as asymptomatic? I find myself getting nervous when meeting people who stand too close to me, ignoring physical distancing or who aren't wearing a mask although I do miss the usual social chit chat when going out to shop or for my daily walk.

I can't regret the things I am learning in these months. I had just started therapy (again) when this all began; now we meet by phone.
The pandemic has given me the opportunity to know just how much of an introvert I am. And, in some cases, saves me the trouble of saying so. I think it is a combination of many things, including Covid, but/and I'm liking myself for the first time in ...well, 50+ years.

At first, it was Home Alone, and I went a bit nuts with furniture, drawers and cabinets. I'm still fine tuning that, and the pile for donation has almost filled the mudroom. Makes me Very Happy to be clearing stuff out. I'm even curating all the artwork, and finding bare walls actually still exist here and there! :)

I have spent way too much time in a mild obsession with News and Opinions. I capitalize them only because of the way they got so BIG in my life. The chore of unsubscribing and just not-clicking has been surprisingly difficult, but to read too much has a most definitely negative effect on my mental health.

I'm not really a fan of the great outdoors, so my exercise is a Tai Chi & Qigong, a stationary bike, a Bosu ball, and some stretching. At first, all my classes stopped.
I take a Yang form tai chi class, and teach a 5 Elements Qigong class.
Now, both of those classes take place once a week in lovely outdoor spaces with all of us masked and distanced.

My Women's Salon that met semi-monthly has fallen away. We tried Skype unsuccessfully twice; two are scared of Zoom. So... I really miss those conversations!

Even the Karaoke group meets almost every week. We have the same set-ups at home as the bars do, and one of us has a huge deck and no neighbors. It's a long way from being the same As Before, but it's better by far than no harmony at all.
We sometimes have porch or driveway conversations, too.

I miss restaurants!! A Lot!!
And because I reject styrofoam I get very little take-out food here.
And I miss small dinner parties. I love cooking for others. can't now...sigh.

This blog is my first online stop of the day. I don't comment much, but I've been following you for years. Between you and your wise circle of friends, I find more good sense here, than anywhere else online. I am very grateful for you, Ronni, and for all the talent that & generosity that come together in you to lift us up a bit each day.

I'd apologize for the length of this, but I miss talking, too!! :)

Reading my favorite bloggers helps to save my sanity. For instance, just now, after reading the comments posted - I feel so much better because in two different postings I see myself - so I'm not truly alone. Someone else is having to deal w/ binge drinking and another post indicates dealing with a low dose oral chemo drug. Wow! I'm not as alone as I sometimes feel. I am usually upbeat and positive but I do experience some lows which I have to work at. I've been doing that my entire life and at 80 yrs. young I realize I will continue until I die. I love music and reading and nature. My two pets keep me happy and make me laugh. I give them lots of TLC and that makes me content. I've lost three of my dearest long-time friends in the past few years and, of course, will never be able to replace them...60 yrs. of friendship is a long, long time. Since my childhood I've learned to depend on myself and to entertain myself. So Covid-19 hasn't had quite a devastating impact on my way of life. As a matter of fact, it's much more quiet in my neighborhood, and it's been lovely knowing a few of my neighbors have reached out to me and indicated they would help me if needed. I can't ask for more, can I? This year has been awful in terms of the necessity for what seemed like thousands of tests at 3 different hospitals. I was exhausted with months of stress dealing with it all so now I relish my time without appointments, etc. I actually like being alone. (P.S. hubby is in his own room converting his mother's old movies to computer friendly apps. He also loves to cook so I leave him happily in the kitchen.)

What I miss is the experience of "something new." Whether it was a day trip to a museum for a new installation, or a trip to GoodWill or Habitat ReStore - nothing is new. The monotony is what depresses me. Used to love grocery shopping but now it is a detestable chore - I'd rather just eat a PBJ every night. Or go to bed a little hungry.

I order too much off Amazon. Last week it was a $3 strainer just for a can of tuna. Just so I could be excited about a new package and a new toy. I have to stop as I really want this money to be saved.

Yes, I know, the monotony of being healthy(ish) is preferable to the new experience of a hospital trip and a ventilator.

I had a list I made in January of day trips I wanted to take - just one a month, suited to the season. I made it to my Jan and Feb places, and just stare at the rest. Can't even plan when things are just not opening back up here (Washington DC area.)

I think I'm grieving for the plans, life, experiences, and time lost this year. All the phases of grief, but I keep circling through them. I've looked up my mental health coverage on my insurance plan, but I just don't see how Zoom therapy sessions would ever convey the sadness that envelopes all of me.

I've been sober 3 1/2 years; I'm hanging on to that.

Dear sweet Ronni,

Mostly I have lurked as I visualize you drowning in replies stimulated by your interesting blog--one of the best on the web, even before your destroying illness. But here I am again, trying to spell your name correctly this time and Having a name myself which is often misspelled I know how irritating this can be!

I have been housebound for a couple of years with congestive heart failure, which will get me one of these days so covid-19 has added, or subtracted little, from my life. But I do spend time thinking of things my intensely active husband can do. He golfs, walks and exercises at home. I am 83 and he is 74. He has been happy to take over the house cleaning and now the laundry and I cook with great pleasure.

Reading is a big pleasure--always has been , and TV has turned into watching the Criterion site for old movies. "The Four Feathers" was our last. It is still worth watching 100 %.

Your bravery and elegance sets an example to us all. Thank you for sharing it and showing us the way to go--in every meaning of this expression.

I moved to Interior Alaska after I married my guy at 21-years of age. I knew only 2 people and wasn't fond of them. My husband worked on the 'slope' away from home 2-weeks on and 2-weeks off. Being a young person from Portland with quite an active social life who was always going and doing something, I became extremely lonely, sad and bored. Sure there was the phone, but as it was our phone bill was $400 a month just to stay in touch with my spouse. We were broke too having chosen a 15-year mortgage on our first home. At first our only car was 2-wheel drive and when it snowed I was stuck until I hired a person to plow me out.
That experience was like moving from the light to the dark both figuratively and in reality. I learned to be alone for the first time in my life. I learned to like my own company for the first time. Every day was a struggle to decide how to handle all this energy and time all by my lonesome. At first it was depressing, but then I hit the library and would come home with 20-books at once. I listened to music...I mean I really listened. I danced by myself. I ran by myself. I shopped, cooked and ate by myself. I sewed, crafted and researched everything in books.
In the Winter sometimes my husbands flight couldn't fly in or out of Kuparuk, which meant I was alone for 6-weeks at a time. That experience prepared me for Covid.
I now revel in my alone time. I live in a very small, seasonal, coastal community and cannot wait until the tourists take leave with the school year. I wish it would snow so I'd be stuck at home. I read and research everything, but now it's on my laptop or desktop. I sew and do crafts. I have unlimited free calls and texts but I rarely reach out to anyone for companionship. Yes, my husband and I are still together...newly retired so there is that. We have more money than we need nowadays (knock-on-wood) to which I am extremely grateful. I took up making sourdough which has changed my constitution...a darn good thing. I am so busy with my world that I have yet to waste time on a jigsaw or crossword puzzle!
Covid is your own Alaska. It's time for everyone to learn to like their own company. Your family and friends are not there for your distraction to being alone. Slow down. Smell the roses, pick the wildflowers and read, read, read. With your own company, you'll never be alone.

I too am completely alone during this. I have been self isolating since March 3rd.
I was doing well until about a month ago. I am now so alone that I have come to a complete stop...my apartment is a mess. Yesterday was the first time I showered in 2 weeks. I am a breast cancer survivor but this situation in our country has taken every ounce of hope away from me.

I, too, have been living alone for decades and love it. I am an "friendly introvert", as my therapist described me. I like to socialize occasionally, then come home to reenergize my engine. I have actually enjoyed the "shutdown", which started in my state mid-March, because everything just sort of came to a stop - no traffic, no people......I walk every morning for exerise and it has been so quiet and peaceful. I feel so much closer to nature. I feel part of nature.

I'm an avid handicrafter, so I began a crocheted afghan in March & finished it 2 wks ago! I worked on it everyday while listening to podcasts or audiobooks. It is large, queen size, and really beautiful, in my opinion :). I like to crochet afghans and gift them to my kids & grandkids. Working with my hands is very meditative. It empties my mind while I focus on what my hands are doing. I recommend it to all my friends who express fear and anxiety during this particular historic time.

I am now finishing the editing of my memoir, which I audiotaped to a friend 3.5 yrs ago, and had transcribed to text. Then, because of laziness & procrastination, I let it sit on my computer until now. I vow to finish it, and get it printed. It is for my grandkids and my kids so that they will actually know me. It has been a wonderful experience, both happy and sad, to look back at my journey through this life.

I limit how much current news I watch, because being human, I can get passionate and angry like anyone else. I have gone down that hole once or twice since the Pandemic began. But I don't like to feel angry, blaming, resentment, depressed. So I stop feeding it. I stop watching the news at length, I thank God every single day for all my blessings, of which I have so many, and I do handicrafts, which empties my mind of all negativity & focuses it on creativity. This daily practice really helps me.

Thank you to Ronni, and all the commenters, for sharing your thoughts. I enjoy reading all of it.

I so related to this post. I live alone and my companion dog of 10 years just died in May, terrible timing and I'm now more isolated than before.

I reserve Zoom for meetings and workshops, experiencing zoom fatigue which is a unique feeling I get after staring at myself and others I can't actually be with.

Last week, Barbara Boxer talked on MSNBC about how older adults are being impacted in a unique way. The majority of reporting has been on the youth and education, front line workers, the unemployed, etc. as it should be. However, she made this comment: As older adults, our golden years have become our stolen years. I'm certainly feeling that.

Books have been great friends and very entertaining even if I have to pick through a few to find the perfect fit for what I need at the moment.

As an introvert I wasn’t much impacted in the early months Of the pandemic. As it dragged on (no surprise to this avid reader), my empathy grew for my more extroverted friends.

Week before last I ran out of patience w my own company and tried to be gentle w myself. W/o much success. Last week just went numb. All w empathy growing for ALL extroverted, isolated ppl.

Then I realized it was time to return to regular meditation. Find an online exercise, and some kind of art class. Get more structure into my days. So focused there this week.

I do see my son every other week (grocery run), which stops w students returning to PSU next week. And a neighbor and I get together for balcony happy hour x2 per wk.

I worry about my mid age sons, the stress is showing in them now. And the children and grand children of friends... such a terrible thing to be shaped by... and my more isolated friends.

Sending love and a digital hug for all who could use one right about now 🤗💐


Hi Rosemary

Letting you know that I removed the link to your ukelele band
video because no links are allowed in TGB comments. However, I
think it's wonderful and I'm going to include it in next
Saturday's Interesting Stuff.

My best,
Ronni


Ronni Bennett
Email: ronni@ronnibennett.com
Phone: 212.242.0184
Blog: Time Goes By

On 10-Aug-20 8:28 AM, Typepad wrote:

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A new comment from
“Rosemary Woodel” was received on the
post “Elder
Loneliness in the Era of Pandemic”
of the blog “TIME GOES BY”.

Comment:
I live in a retirement community (aka
old people's dormitory) with about 250
other people. It means if I go to wash
my clothes or get the mail I see folks
for convos. I started a ukulele band. We
have zoom lessons weekly. We also meet
once/wk with folks who sing or play
weird instruments (kazoo, washboard,
washtub bass). We record funny songs (or
inspirational songs) using Acapella so
we can maintain 6 ft distances apart but
apparently be together. Here's one we
just recently posted on Youtube.
https://youtu.be/vwP4oeL_FJQ
I attend the Unitarian Universalist
fellowship small groups by Zoom and
Sunday services there and elsewhere via
Facebook Live. Still, I sometimes miss
going out to lunch with specific
friends. And doing anything spontaneous.


Commenter name: Rosemary Woodel
Commenter email: rwoodel.woodel@gmail.com
IP address: 38.110.50.250
Authentication: None

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Feeling a little depressed yesterday, I Googled "depression in the elderly+ Corona" and found this in (get ready) a May issue of "Geriatric Medicine":

"Most seniors are not comfortable with smart phones or the language of social media, so precautions for a pandemic need to be explained to them in their own simple terms."

After I got done swearing, I posted it on Facebook with the remark, "Anybody else want to clock this clown?"

Turns out lots of people do. 😁😁

So maybe a little righteous outrage helps?

It’s not the day-to-day stuff that bothers me so much but rather the fear of what our future will be. And now with all the talk of ending social security I really worry about how I would survive.
So it’s very much the work of staying in the present or now.
I’m lucky in that I really don’t need many people in my life. I have old friends I email with but most of all I rely on twitter for entertainment and news.
My timeline on twitter is rather a mess in that I don’t relate to much said there but I have certain like-minded people I follow on a daily basis. People with more power who seem to be a little more aware of the daily political world. People who work for a better future. People who are smarter and who I can learn from.
I had a craniotomy a couple of months ago and so have made a few friends through an
online support group.
And there is Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’m a film fan and have seen some excellent series lately but the hard part is not having anyone to discuss them with. You know the way we used to go to a movie and then coffee to discuss it. I miss that a lot!
And so it all comes back to people in the end. Even the most introverted of us need people.

I left home in an angry mood in 1963. I've been married three times, no kids. Still married to the same woman after over 3 decades. I'm in my seventies. As a travelling rep in my younger days, I learned to amuse myself alone. Still do. The only difference now is that I get checks and don't work. I have a zillion projects I never had time to get to. Too busy feeding myself. Elaine and I still have fun together. I joke that I'd take her out for dinner and a movie, but everything is closed! We had about 8 mos. total of real retirement when this pandemic hit.
Now, we're mostly at home and love it. We've developed new friends and projects and are so busy we have to use a scheduling calendar now. Of course, if OUR checks stop I think it will be all over.

I'm home alone like many others. I realize I am grateful for this as I would be terribly cranky sharing my space with another.

I get up early and enjoy reading over breakfast before I check news-feeds which are nearly always the same and ultimately depressing as to the state of the world. We are reasonably safe in Canada but 45 has started a trade war over aluminum and has vowed to annihilate us or some such other cartoon word.

I write more than I normally do and have both tax work and editing jobs in which keeps me distracted and earning a few crusts.

I also design and knit some extravagant new projects which take months.

And some marvellous streaming services that I treat myself to before bedtime.

My energy is zapped tho. Between PVD and CHF and other autoimmune challenges.

But I continue to remain astonished that I have lived to nearly 77 so far as I didn't ever think that would happen due to alcoholism (34 years sober now) and a fairly self-abusive life style.

XO
WWW

As I read this a nasty storm is just entering my neighborhood. The thunder, hail, heavy rain and high winds (70-100mph) and lightning are being reported as very dangerous. We are in a rain deficit here, so I'm hoping that at least some soaks in and reverses that. It's a little odd sitting here, listening to the extreme sounds of nature while pondering loneliness and the effects of the pandemic these past months. Like something from a gothic novel.

I can relate to much of what's been expressed in these comments. I haven't had much of a problem with loneliness, as I've been pulled into the lives of a colony of neighborhood feral cats this summer. Most of the cats have been around the neighborhood for more than a year now, and I attended a shelter-making project at a local PAWS program last winter and made half a dozen cozy spaces out of large picnic coolers and other items, to give them somewhere to escape the harshest of our midwest weather. Earlier in the year, I took at least 8 in to the county animal services for the Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program. The problem is that no one helps find new homes, especially these past months, so after they've been vaccinated, chipped and "fixed," they get sent back home with me. I've learned to co-exist, as have the cats, for the most part. We have occasional possums, raccoons, and groundhogs that share the space and sneak bird and cat food, or what ever has been added to the compost pile that's reasonably edible still. Possums love watermelon, and I've put out barely eaten watermelon just for their pleasure now and then. Also cobs of fresh corn, which is quite tasty fresh out of the field this time of year. All in all, the yard often looks like a scene from "The Peaceable Kingdom which -- although it's been costly, time-consuming and emotionally and physically taxing at times, has also kept me very motivated to stay well. All of these little beings are so loving and when their needs are met, they are so content (mostly), appreciative and friendly.

I live alone, and would like a small animal to cuddle with. A cat would be ideal, but sadly, I'm allergic to them. So I'm looking for a little lapdog—preferably, a Maltese or Bichon Frise. But it turns out that I'm far from the only one pursuing this plan. Rescues and pounds can't keep up with the current demand for cuddly little lapdogs. Still, engaging the search every day is a good way to stay engaged with the world.

I’m not lonely, thankfully. My husband keeps me entertained when I’m not reading or spending time on my tablet. I do miss going places without a thought for my safety. We miss our monthly breakfast with friends. Books, phone, tablet and TV keep us in touch with the outside world. Our cats are sweet and I like having someone to take care of. House and yard chores also help to keep us going. It’s been interesting.
Our daughter and grandkids are far away but we stay in touch and FaceTime occasionally. We have everything we need, so definitely feel fortunate.

Yes, we too now have a PhD in Zoom. We've also gotten to know a few more neighbors who now find the time to stop and say hello as they walk by. We've had another couple over a couple of times, to sit our on the patio and visit, not even go inside to the bathroom, but it still makes me nervous. Fortunately, we here in PA have seen our numbers go way down. But we still have to be vigilant ... I worry about back to school.

I vivdly recall my introduction to loneliness in the summer after 6th grade when we moved to the country. There were subsequent moves, even across country and half-way back again over the next six years. That first summer, feeling really lonely as no one my age around, complaining to my mother there was nothing to do, she said i would just have to learn how to entertain myself. And so I did, enabling me to survive fairly happy and content during those similarly alone following years except for when I rode the bus to school, was actively engaged there, had lots of friends. No one lived near to get together with, we had no phone, so life for me was solitary mostly.

This prepared me well for life, but definitely this pandemic, as well as for recent years increasing significant loss of family and an unbelievable number of practically all my friends locally and scattered around the country. Few, if any, once-enjoyed letters, phone calls, emails, texts come my way any more. At least one younger couple close friends still in my life but they live some distance away and we no longer are able to get together. Periodic contact with adult children who live across the country provide some welcome occasions of contact.

Some unexpected medical issues have cramped my style, slowed my pace, impacted my activities, but I’m generally content entertaining myself, not fretting over what i can’t do or might want to do. Focusing on maintaining my chosen aging living arrangements — thriving/living in place by staying in my home as I age with whatever challenges that can present, especially since I’m alone, or during times of illness can take advance time planning and real time executing.

The internet, delivery and pickup services have been a boon helping me accomplish this goal. I view this as an interesting grand experiment from which I learn something almost every day. Entertaining myself successfully with varied activities contributes very much to my happy, positive, content, pleased state of mind. For example, i recently rejoined a book club, virtual now, have continued writing for my blog weekly and enjoying reader’s comments as well as coming here, visiting others blogs — all provide some level of socialization. I do miss the live immediate 1:1 interaction of which I once had an abundance with selective people. I strive to recognize what I can control and what not — despite any instances of personal frustration, issues coping with Covid-19, anger with our current government’s negligence and threat to democracy.

I recently rejoined a book club now virtual.

To be honest, I've been so worried about my adult children and my extremely elderly parents (aged 90 and 99), to think much about myself. I know I'm feeling some sort of depression because I'm not sleeping and I have a weepy hour once in a while. After that, I slog forward, not necessarily with grace. I'm tired of cooking, haven't been exercising, and don't feel the slightest bit guilty. Bigger fish to fry right now. My heartfelt tender wishes to Ronni and everyone here as we continue to muddle through.

Ugh, please forgive the incorrect word choice and punctuation in my comment above. There's something I DO care about. Ha

Wow, you asked, and the floodgates opened.............so it looks like we're all wanting to express ourselves about this!
I talk on the phone, Zoom, have the occasional friend to visit on the porch, have discovered that just being friendly to my occasional loneliness rather than attempt to push it away does wonders. I'll be damned if I'll let that bastard Trump grind me down, in other than the moments I hear about his genocide by neglect.

At the moment, there are three other adults (husband, grown daughter, daughter's boyfriend) as well as two large cats in our Too Small Apartment. I'm an introvert who need a lot of space and alone time, so things right now are a bit chaotic for me. That will change soon when the boyfriend leaves for grad school, and eventually the daughter leaves to relocate to the city where her new job is, should it ever stop being remote. (I hope their long distance relationship will survive.) My closest friend is a thousand miles away ... we "visit" by playing board games together online twice a week. I also zoom a couple of times a week with various friends and family. I occupy myself with novels (although I have had trouble concentrating lately), Netflix, and crafts (cross stitch, crochet, knitting, going to teach myself to sew so I can make masks). I'm also volunteering with a get-out-the-vote effort, which sometimes feels futile.

But my soul is lonely. Part of that is my nature. Add to that Covid and quarantine, which make me very blue, and the state of the union and my astonishment at how many have drunk the Orange Kook's Kool-Aid, which make me despair. Music and old movies help.

Ronni, your suggestions for combating loneliness are spot on, thank you!

Other than my cleaning lady a couple of times, I have had no visitors since February, over five months totally alone. I was already used to being alone, but before COVID19 my brother would visit for a few days about once a month or so, and I fairly frequently had friends or other relatives visit. I always had a visit to look forward to. Now, there are no visitors. And with the Arizona summer heat, it like a blast furnace hitting me if I even open the front door. (111 today) — So going outside is a no go too.

I’m terrified of catching COVID19 and if staying home alone is what it takes to avoid it, so be it.

I don’t drive anymore so I can’t just drive around. I use FaceTime video chat with my brother and his wife, and my sister too, that helps a lot. I am fortunate to have many long time online friends in various countries and keeping in touch with them also helps ease the loneliness.

I purchased (online, everything is purchased online) some sewing materials to make some aprons, and some yarn to crochet some scarves for friends... but have not started working on these projects. I have many projects I should start or finish up, but never seem to be in the mood. I haven’t even finished my 2019 taxes! (Got a procrastination extension)

I have a very bad case of procrastination and lack of motivation that I think is caused by loneliness and depression. But I’m fighting it, and one day at a time I will get projects done, even if I have to break them down into small pieces.

One thing I’ve found that is helping me recently is to completely IGNORE the dummy desecrating our White House. He is a walking talking giver of depression and frustration. The more I ignore him. The better and more motivated I feel!

This morning, after a long hot and soothing shower, I gave myself a pedicure. Then lathered healing lotion on my feet and put cotton socks on. Doing something nice for yourself is always a depression beater.

I have been widowed for almost 10 years. I spent 3 of those years (except summers) living with my parents in Florida, driving for them and helping out. After my dad died in late 2015 (he was almost 98), my mother moved back to Chicago full-time. She lives on her own at 96 in an apartment in the same building as one of my sisters. My sister and one brother who also lives in Chicago watch over her now. I had been visiting regularly, for about a week a month, to see her and to give them a break, but since COVID that has been off the table.

Still, the focus of my life for now is my mom. How amazing that I still have her. I'm editing a family memoir she wrote over the past 15 years or more. And I talk with her EVERY EVENING on FaceTime, a bit draining for me, but my way of doing my part to keep her spirits up (and, in a carom shot, my sister's). We have long conversations about politics and the state of the nation. Seeing each other helps to make it more like a real visit.

I have 3 cats. I belong to a karate school that meets 3x a week over Zoom and just met once in person, outdoors. And I have a decade of experience as a caregiver to my progressively more mentally and physically disabled husband (he had Lewy body dementia), which means isolation is nothing new to me. Quarantine was a groove I could settle into without great shock or disorientation. And my husband, who had escaped from a Soviet slave labor camp as a teenager, had taught me that one's whole world and civilization can and may fall apart overnight, so I was strangely prepared for that too.

The hardest thing for me after 39 years living with one person is not being reciprocally primary to anyone besides my mom, who probably won't outlive me. I have no kids. (I wanted at least one, my husband didn't—too traumatized.) My friends are scattered all over the country and the world, none of my closest ones are here. My siblings are scattered as well, plus siblings are mostly not primary. They're parallel (though paradoxically, losing one will feel like losing a limb).

I actually dated someone briefly a year ago whom I liked a lot, but panicked and ended it prematurely because he was hot-and-cold and I couldn't take it . We remained friends on social media and I'm still forlornly attached to him, the first person I'd been intimately close with (and I don't mean sexually, though that was a bonus) for a very long time. I'd probably have let it go except that every once in a while he sends me a present. I don't know why, since he otherwise shows no inclination to resume. I question whether it's good for me to hang on these little tastes of illusory cherishing to get through the lonely days. Facebook "likes" become like chipping heroin.

Maybe illusions aren't that bad when they're what you've got. Yes, I've got my mom but I know I have to be prepared to lose her.

So many sad stories! My husband is very hard of hearing and so it is sometimes a chore to try to get his attention away from the computer to have a conversation. He has spent the past 5 months cleaning out the shed, and the garage, selling items on Craigslist. I have done some of that in the house and shed myself. Mostly giving furniture, and knick knacks to my daughter who lives 45 min. away, rearranging book shelves, and cleaning.

Being an introvert I have not changed my routines very much although being unable to see friends for lunch and a matinee, and attending my monthly women's group is something I do miss. I have yoga now on Zoom, and still able to walk everyday in my neighborhood as our coastal Oxnard weather is pleasant. I also avoid the news except for small amounts. My husband watches BBC and the nightly news, and continues his exercise routines everyday.

Yesterday I had a pleasant outing to Home Depot to buy potting soil, and a few plants, and some cans of spray paint. This project is part of a weeks-long plan to renew and improve.....Now today will paint the old patio furniture for spouse's 80th B-day party lunch of take-out food on our patio planned for the weekend. We will see one couple who we haven't seen since a museum outing 5 months ago. Lots of flowers blooming and tomatoes in the garden. Thank God I can still do some gardening and hire the gardeners to do what I cannot do.

Bless all the essential workers who go to their jobs everyday to help us survive. Yes, I have much to be thankful for and I do go over my list of blessings everyday when I meditate, my three children and their families, all of us being safe and secure, and for my husband. I would be lonely without him, and our 2 sister cats.

When the pandemic started, the Chicago Architecture Center conducted Zoom tours which they still do today. They were wonderful, especially the outdoor ones. I scoured the internet and found more lectures online at an art museum in Washington and a downstate university. Now, there are many offerings on Zoom and other conferencing tools. I recently viewed 2 different author talks via the Martha Vineyard's Author Festival, one with Erik Larson and the other with authors who've written about the Supreme Court. They were wonderful.

I've met friends for a picnic lunch in the park. We wore masks and were socially distanced. I met a friend in her patio for lunch. I started weekly Zoom meetings with another friend who is elder caretaking her parents in another state. I keep in touch with her daughter via email. I meet weekly with my brother and his family and thru these meetings I have learned so much about them. We don't see eye to eye on politics but we respect each other's opinions. We listen.

Pre-Covid, I took classes at the local community college. These classes shifted online to Zoom and Google Chat. A nearby community group emails a weekly list of topics they offer via Zoom. A senior learning center offered their classes for free on Zoom. They now charge but it isn't much.

I am so happy libraries reopened. I think it was a big mistake to close them. I've been reading more. I just finished The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. My book club shifted online to Zoom. Unfortunately, I've been the only one to show up for the last 3 months. I'm hoping this will change next month.

Walks in the neighborhood, nearby parks and forest preserves were all soul-enhancing. I walk weekly at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I love being outdoors. I occasionally bicycle.

Gardening. I have a vegetable garden at a local community garden. I am also a gardening volunteer at the zoo.

Texting. I have a friend who was active in Mather's. She and her Mather friends also text each other.

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