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Sunset Boulevard: Old age, loneliness need not be synonymous

punjab Updated: Jan 17, 2016 11:34 IST
Col DS Cheema(Retd)
Col DS Cheema(Retd)
Old age

The elderly persons are left alone by the circumstances, but if they start thinking and worrying about loneliness it starts to kill them quietly and slowly.(HT Photo )

It is a well-known fact that as human beings age, life does not treat them with the same kindness as it did during their younger years. There comes a stage in the life of the elderly persons, particularly those above 70, when children have left home and one spouse passes away. With advancing age, one has to gracefully accept that the bonds nurtured and enjoyed for years are bound to break sooner or later. The elderly persons are left alone by the circumstances, but if they start thinking and worrying about loneliness it starts to kill them quietly and slowly.


Nearly everyone feels lonely at times:

It is not the number of people around you but the quality of relationship that determines whether you feel lonely or not. One must understand that being alone is not the same thing as being lonely and even very popular people or the one’s who are right at the top of any position may also be very lonely at some point of time. So, be sure that you are not the only one who is lonely; different people have different reasons to be alone and lonely. One can be alone without being lonely. There are times when you like to be left alone, but surely you are not lonely; you have many things in your mind and in hand at that very moment.

Loneliness can be hazardous to your health:

Researchers have concluded that low social interaction can be a predictor of early death, and as a risk factor , it is “twice as harmful as obesity” and equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Loneliness can make you vulnerable:

When you think you are lonely, you start looking for others to fight that loneliness; in fact, you are longing for the company of others and that is the time when some people are likely to take advantage of you. You could begin to think that any attention is better than no attention and choose a wrong friend or even a wrong partner to help you that may lead to many miseries, leaving you still lonelier.

Loneliness can be dealt with effectively:

The problem of loneliness can be tackled squarely by making conscious effort.


Assume the best and don’t draw negative inferences:

Whenever you are in a situation where you feel that you have been neglected or left out, don’t jump to the conclusion that someone didn’t like you and that is why you have not been invited. Instead, direct your energy towards thinking of a better explanation for your being excluded from a group. Often, it is not the situation but your outlook that brings up feelings of loneliness.

Avoid sweeping assertions:

When you are lonely, you might think, ‘I never get invited anywhere,’ or ‘Every one avoids me.’ Such sweeping assertions will only sink you deeper in to the quicksand of loneliness. Such thoughts can create a vicious circle: you feel like an outcast, which makes you isolate yourself, which makes you lonely, which makes you feel like an outcast.

Be willing to befriend others who are not in your age group:

It is often assumed that only people of the same age group can make good friends. You will soon realise the value of having a younger or older friend. While younger people bring the freshness of youth, the older can bring in maturity and stability in relationship.

Get a pet: We know that pets can be a man’s best friends. Playing with pets can beat loneliness and be a great stress-buster. Winston Churchill often said that he preferred the company of animals to those of humans.

Do something creative or constructive:

Anything constructive you like to do, such as reading, writing, painting, gardening and dancing, can become a hobby in old age. Networking and socialising can also be of a great help.

Exercise to avoid dementia and depression:

Keeping fit is your primary responsibility. Regular exercise and long walks can keep you good company.

Appreciate the value and benefits of solitude:

Some people feel lonely as soon as they face a moment of privacy. Yet, everyone needs some space for himself or herself. Instead of seeing your being alone as a disadvantage, use quiet time to reflect appreciatively on your blessings and focus on selfimprovement. That can make you even more desirable to others.

And if you can follow Shakespeare’s advice — “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none” — you will never be lonely.