avoiding loneliness in old age

“The day i had my embolism attack I was climbing the stairs to my regular salon.

Halfway up the second floor my heart felt like a freight train was hurtling through my chest trying to exit through my ears.

So here I was, holding onto the stairwell and telling myself, I can’t die here, no one walks in Dubai , certainly no one walks up stairs and no one will know where to find me.

I thought I was being funny, but what’s ironic is that it was actually true. I really could have died and no one would have found me for a long long time. Even if I had shouted and wept and called out.

Now I am home, within calling distance of everyone and what if no one hears me when I call?

Everywhere I look, everyone is plugged in to their own world and only when I tap shoulders or touch an arm will they turn with a frown.

At home, families sit together, texting and reading e-mail. At work executives text during board meetings. We text and shop and go on Facebook even during classes and even when on dates.

My children tell me about an important new skill: it involves maintaining eye contact with someone while you text someone else; apparently, it’s hard, but it can be done!

Whatever happened to talking? We seem to have sacrificed conversation for mere connection.

I’ve learned that the little devices most of us carry around are so powerful that they change not only what we do, but also who we are and how we become. Talking is now telegraphic, conversation is terse, to the point, a hug is no longer tight and close.

We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being “alone together.” Our attention spans are fractured, we talk in gunshot scatters. And walk away claiming work or other thinly veiled excuses if the conversation isn’t going the way we want.

We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party.

Texting has become an everyday facet of our lives, that absolutely allows us to stay connected to others with instant communication. But it has the deadly potential to diminish our social skills.

It reinforces ineffective communication. We ‘hide behind a screen’ to escape confrontation in friendships or romantic relationships.

Its impersonal. Emotional sentiments are expressed through typing, without clues like tone of voice, facial expressions and body language. How can anyone tell a truth from a lie?

We can end up hiding from each other even as we all are constantly connected to each other.

We are all taking sips from the glass when we are thirsty not realizing that unless we drink the full glass we will end up dehydrated.

What happens when the online friend count goes up and the number of real-life encounters goes down? A recent study found the answer might be linked to loneliness and depression.

Its interesting how technologies which are meant to bring people closer together, tend to in some ways isolate us, because we have this substitute for actual in-person interaction.

People recede to this virtual world of having these kind of virtual friendships and connections, but we don’t receive the same sort of supportive environment that we do when we have a real connection to a real living, breathing individual.

No marks for guessing how many of us and our children who today choose to be alone, will end up paying money to someone who will sit in an armchair and listen to us talk in this new plugged in world.

Loneliness is a major health issue.

It doesn’t just make people unhappy, research shows that it has an effect on mortality too. And it doesn’t just affect people in mid life. Younger people are prone to it too, particularly 18 to 24 year old.

Loneliness is probably more dangerous to our health than smoking. Is this true? And if it is, should we take isolation as seriously as we do obesity or smoking in our health strategies?

Company is much more important in reducing our risk of dying than losing weight, taking exercise or giving up booze or fags.

Loneliness is bad for our health. Seriously bad. Doctors have known this for decades. Research shows we are better off having friends – it suggests that we are all likely to enjoy health benefits if we have busy social lives.

No-one is suggesting it is wrong to live alone or enjoy one’s own company. But human beings are social creatures and starved of contact we can, quite literally, die.

Everyone knows what it’s like to be lonely. It happens during life’s transitions: a student leaves home for college, an unmarried businessman takes a job in a new city, or an elderly woman outlives her husband and friends. Bouts of loneliness are a fact of human existence.But when loneliness becomes a chronic condition, the impact can be far more serious.

Doctors have identified several potentially unhealthy changes in the cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems of chronically lonely people. Their findings could help explain why studies have often found that socially isolated people have shorter life spans and increased risk of a host of health problems, including infections, heart disease, and depression.

Loneliness not only increases wear and tear by keeping the body in alert mode but also may prevent people from recharging their batteries with rest and relaxation and although lonely people sleep a normal number of hours, they report more fatigue the next day, suggesting that their quality of sleep isn’t as good.

Loneliness isn’t at all what people thought it was, and it’s a lot more important than people thought it was.

We are the books we read, the films we watch, the music we listen to, the people we meet, the dreams we have, the conversations we engage in.

We are the sound of trees whispering in the wind, the crackle of leaves in autumn, the hiss of the sea receding, the breath of fresh air, the motes of dust dancing in the sunbeam. We are a collection of every experience , everyday.

And how shall we grow if we shut ourselves away?

We get to choose.

Withered and gnarled and twisted and dry and alone.Or strong, supple, cradled and cherished and comforted and never lonely.

Walk away from loneliness.

Fall in love again with someone who tells you that if they fall asleep waiting for you to come to bed , they will reach for you at night,not so as to wake you , just for the comfort of love nearby.

Be in love with something greater than both of you.

Be in love with someone who lets you be wrong and wades in the mistakes with you.

Fall in love so you can write in your minds , we made it through.

But most of all, hold on to that love with clenched fists and a willing heart.

Because I believe: to reach out we have to first touch someone.”

For TriBeCa Care Companionship services log on to www.tribecacare.com

Mail us your enquiries to enquiry@tribecacare.com or call +91 33 402 777 77

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