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Strategies to Reduce Isolation in the Elderly

Updated on May 31, 2014
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Black Lines in an Address Book

Although my mother is not near the 100 mark yet, at 85 she is the last of her long-time friends from her youth to be alive. She has outlived her husband, her siblings, and all of her close cousins and acquaintances. One day, I found the address book she'd used for years in the trash. Nostalgic, I removed it and took a look at it only to find the sad reality of names crossed out with black marker and a margin note in ball-point indicating the date they'd died.

A couple of years ago, a witty author released a book for adults that was formatted as if it was a child's picture book. The title and its accompanying cartoon have always stayed with me for the poignancy of the situation: a simply-drawn dinosaur with a sad expression stood alone. The cartoon was captioned, "All my friends are dead."

That moment holding mom's address book reminded me of the cartoon. How sad to see all those familiar names blacked out. I can't even imagine the impact on my mother each time she took that Sharpie pen out of the drawer. It was a dramatic reminder of how easily isolated elderly people can feel as their long-time acquaintances -- and others who have been through the same world events -- pass away, leaving only younger people around them.

New friendships must bloom.
New friendships must bloom. | Source

Forging New Friendships

As friends and family are replaced by a black line in the book, the need for human contact doesn't vanish with them. It's important to continue to build new relationships.

Mom has forged friendships with neighbors that are ten to 20 years younger than herself. She's reconnected with the once-estranged nieces and nephews whom she dearly loves but who reside in Mom's country of birth. She's strengthened the relationships with nieces from my father's side of the family (whom live locally). She joined Facebook and got in touch with people she'd lost touch with. (That particular exercise was not without its own challenges, but it brought Mom back into contact with friends and family and the children of friends and family whom she loved.)

I had a much-loved neighbor, Jaque, who was in her 80's. When I moved in, Jaque drove up in her little pick-up truck and knocked on my door, greeting me with a huge smile and an infectious laugh. She drove me up and down my new street, introducing me to the neighborhood. Jaque knew them all. Each time she saw someone moving into a house, she knocked on their door. I don't know that I've ever met someone as well-loved as Jaque; she was the heart-beat of our entire area. She made new friendships on a daily basis -- and she brought people together, an art in itself. Having lived here "before anyone else," as she put it, she was also the unofficial historian of the neighborhood. She told us the tales of living here in this desert place long before pavement extended to her driveway. She was the folklorist, the archivist, the keeper of tales.

Jaque's friendship was a great gift and a privilege. The very elderly may not realize how great this gift can be. Warmth never expires and it never goes out of style. Neither do the tales of "before" that many of us so enjoy hearing.

Dark Humor? Get it Here!

Maintaining the Ability to Laugh

If ever a sense of humor is important, it's when TMB Syndrome* is wreaking havoc on one's joints, senses and social circle. Mom often reminds me that getting old is not for sissies; neither is it for the humorless.

Mom has maintained a sense of humor that allows her to see the irony and dark humor in her situation. Our shared sense of humor has always been dark, admittedly, but it doesn't stop us from laughing together over wry one-liners. The other day I discouraged my mother from going out alone to watch the meteor showers. When she asked why not, I said, "What happens if you're out there at midnight in the dark and you fall?" She said, "Well, I'll just pick myself up and cry!" Jaque, my friend and former neighbor, used to introduce herself to my friends by saying with a grin, "I'm Jaque, Marcy's antique neighbor."

When I saw the book, "All My Friends are Dead," I called Mom to share some of the cartoon captions with her. We laughed together. We always do. Should the world crumble around us, we'll still, somehow, find humor in the situation … after we pick ourselves up and cry.

*TMB Syndrome: Too Many Birthdays.

Source

Keeping Current

Mom recognizes the importance of staying in touch with current affairs, from politics to the latest movies. Mutual friends often comment to me, as if surprised, what an amazing conversationalist my mother is. "She's up to date on everything. She knows her politics!" Mom has never allowed herself to remain in the days of Whigs and Tories and Gunpowder Plots -- she stays actively abreast of local and national politics, international events, and book releases.

Although politics have changed, people's interest in them have not. The elderly may not be interested in Kimye's wedding (I guess my own age is showing in that area) but by staying well versed in things that matter in the news, they will always find someone interested in discussing or debating them. Conversation is key to relationships; keeping current is key to universal conversation.

A subscription to a comprehensive news magazine such as "The Week" is an excellent means of staying up to date on issues both national and international for those who aren't computer-inclined. For those elderly people, like my mother, who love the internet, signing up for Twitter and following key news sources, papers, magazines and political leaders is invaluable and easy. Those quick-burst news feeds make it so convenient to see what's going on in the world in a nutshell and can be tailored to a person's own interests and leanings. Since it is also interactive, it can afford another opportunity to feel connected.

Maintain Physical Contact

Many years ago I'd read a study in which elderly people cited "physical contact" as the thing they missed most since growing old. We don't realize how easily it vanishes; the hug between friends, the intimacy of sleeping beside another person, the occasional shoulder rub or squeeze of an arm may be gone abruptly with the death of a spouse or the long-distance move of a daughter. There's a non-sexual touch called "haptic" touching that is critical to our emotional well-being.

The elderly, if not afforded those brief, spontaneous moments of physical connection, might consider scheduling a massage by a therapist who specializes in geriatric massage on a monthly basis. Some massage therapists offer just back and shoulder rubs. For people such as my mother who suffer from osteopenia and the rounded back and shoulder, this can be a great pleasure without crossing the comfort lines that a whole-back massage might invade.

My mom relies on her small dog for a degree of physical affection that often is inaccessible to the elderly. She takes joy in petting him, spoiling him, feeling him sleeping against her, and in (most importantly) being needed by him. She often mentions how she loves feeling his warm little body beside her in bed; he's forever at her side. There's a reason why petting or cuddling with a cat or dog may lower blood pressure and offer a host of health benefits -- it's natural to want physical contact and affection, and it's natural to want to extend it to other living beings.

Froggy Isabella recommends a ginger cat in every household.
Froggy Isabella recommends a ginger cat in every household. | Source

Adopt a Pet

A dog or cat is a godsend for the elderly, even if it is a visiting therapy dog at a hospital or home. In addition to offering companionship, a dog can offer more of a feeling of security -- and it can create new connections, as someone walking their dog is likely to meet fellow dog-lovers who stop to say hello. Dogs can be a bridge between people who normally wouldn't take time to talk. Any of us who have walked our dogs in public know how much of a magnet they are for others.

A few years ago I read a newspaper column memorializing a very lonely elderly woman whose beloved little dog had just died. She wrote a letter to a specific columnist who often covered human-interest stories; the columnist, known for his compassion, was an apt choice. The woman's letter was a suicide note. She said that only her dog had kept her alive and without him, she was too lonely to go on. It wasn't a letter about the deep and abiding grief we feel when we lose a pet we love, but about the fact the pet was the only creature left in her life that gave her love and companionship. That is a testament not just to the apathy of a society that often neglects our elderly, but to the value of a pet's affection.

Sadly, about the same time, I read about a local animal-rescue organization that I had often donated money to. The shelter had a policy of refusing to adopt animals to elderly individuals because they new owner might die (as if the rest of us all have warranties). A man in his 80's had been turned away several times when he tried to give an animal a home. It was also a heartbreaking article. An elderly person, desperately desiring an animal's companionship, was refused -- all whilst 44,000 animals per year were being killed at the county pound. I was disgusted. My donations have since gone to a shelter that recognizes the great value a pet can afford an elderly individual -- and even have special programs just for those owners (who are often some of the finest owners of all, as people who stay at home with their pets, spoil them rotten and devote much more time than many younger career-oriented people do with them. Additionally, many elderly people are more likely to adopt an older, even geriatric, pet rather than insisting on a puppy.)

Housesitting a small dog or pocket-pet for friends or neighbors can provide short-term animal companionship. It can even offer some extra pocket change, in some instances. One particularly feisty, active woman in her late 70's that I knew took in pets on a regular basis for traveling acquaintances. It was more than just the money -- she loved having animals around, but it saved her from the commitment and expense of keeping her own.

Similarly, if a person is living on their own still and is able to do so, fostering kittens for the local animal shelter is a valuable program that can be lifesaving not just for the kittens but for the elderly who crave to be useful. It is physically not terribly demanding. (If the individual has a tendency to be an animal hoarder, though, it is clearly not advisable to involve them in more animals.) Fostering animals affords a sense of worth … which leads us to the need to feel useful.

Fostering kittens:  what's not to love?
Fostering kittens: what's not to love? | Source

Do You Maintain Friendships with the Very Elderly?

Do you have a close friendship with someone over 80?

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Remain Involved and Useful

Many of us (if not most) have an inherent need to be of use. For the very elderly, who are often treated with an almost-dismissive attitude by those around them, there's a risk of feeling useless. It's a complaint I've heard from many elderly friends: "I'm a useless old lady." Caretakers can unknowingly (and with good intentions) exacerbate this by doing everything for the elderly person rather than encouraging independence. Sometimes we unwittingly diminish our elderly family members by not letting them make something for us, or turning down their efforts to do something for us -- although we may sincerely be motivated out of concern for them and wanting to pamper them, we must realize they have a need to be of use as well.

This is why programs such as making quilts for premature babies, or making items for the deployed troops, are often popular with the elderly. They have just as much of a craving to give back as younger people do -- if not mores.


My beautiful mother and her newest book.
My beautiful mother and her newest book. | Source

Be a Lifelong Learner

Mom has always been a capable artist. Competent in oil paint, acrylic, sculpture, pastels and charcoal, she has a knack for capturing expression and emotion in her subjects. When her lung disease made working with oil paints an impossibility, she switched to pastel paintings. Now, her palsy has made it difficult to work with pastel. I've encouraged her to return to sculpting.

She has always been committed to learning and still has that gleam of intellectual excitement when she grasps a new concept. Over the years she has taken non-credit classes in lost-gold jewelry making and multiple art courses. Taking a painting class in attendance with others was a fulfilling means of remaining involved and socially active.

Maybe art classes aren't for everyone -- but think of cooking classes, leatherwork, print-making, photography, languages, computer apps, recreational activities of all sorts. Colleges and universities have a number of free lectures open to the public; bookstores and libraries have poetry readings and book discussion groups. A great way of keeping in touch with local events is to subscribe to the email ads for Groupon or other group-savings on events; they'll often feature savings at museums, recreational facilities, and even beer-tasting at microbreweries.

Source

Participate in Civic Groups or Churches

The church is more than just a place of worship; it also offers companionship, people with shared values, a support group and more. Many times a congregation member will even offer a weekly ride to church services to an elderly neighbor or friend who is on the way. A friend who is active in her own church recently mentioned to me how reassuring it was to have members of her church coming by and offering support and assistance when major life-events occurred -- at the birth of her children, the hospitalization of her husband, for example.

Other organized groups also provide companionship and assistance to fellow members. Whether it is a Kiwanis club or a book discussion group, joining a club or civic group can benefit the elderly. Such groups usually spawn friendships that extend beyond the meeting room.

Granny's Example

My grandmother lived to be 101. She employed many of the same methods of being involved until her arteriosclerosis, blindness and deafness wholly isolated her from all but that so-important human touch in the form of a held hand, a caress on the cheek, a rub of the shoulders. Her attitude was inspiring -- regardless of what physical or emotional challenge befell her, she responded with, "Well, I've never had diabetes before," or a similar statement, always delivered with a perky and wry tone. Even today we marvel at her irreverent and joyful sense of humor; even the hardened arteries didn't take that from her. The last time I saw Granny, my mother and I traveled to Canada for a final visit. My Mom was devastated when Granny didn't initially recognize her due to her impaired vision and hearing, but she gave Granny a huge smile as she held her hand. Granny laughed and said, "I know who you are, Betty. I recognize you by your teeth." To others it might seem an odd thing to say; to us, it was clear evidence that Granny was still alive and well -- it was her distinctive, quirky, wonderful sense of humor showing through.

My Granny rode in a hot air balloon in her 70's, was never hesitant to hop on my horse or my brother's motorcycle, and visited her much-loved England (where she was born) well into her 80's. I don't know that I'd call her feisty -- spunky was a much better word. She'd triumphed over much adversity but never allowed it to embitter her, nor did I ever see her angry. It served her well as she crossed each decade-marker of her life.

An Action Plan

The very elderly may do well to employ their own action plan. Some strategies that may help fend off the sense of isolation and irrelevance may include:

  • Find aged-but-younger companions
  • Continue to stay abreast of politics and to vote
  • Treat themselves to a massage by a geriatric massage therapist monthly, because haptic touching is critical to feeling engaged
  • Challenge themselves -- whether by reading good literature (as Mom does), learning a new art or revisiting an old talent
  • Use the services of elderly-transport companies in the area to get out for the day
  • Travel, particularly in organized tours that accommodate the elderly or handicapped
  • Adopt or foster a pet or arrange for pet visits
  • Create their own bucket list (it's never too late)

Copyright © 2014 MJ Miller

All rights reserved. No part of this article may be used without the express permission of the author. Links to this page, however, may be freely shared. Thank you for linking, liking, pinning, sharing, forwarding, tweeting, +1'ing and otherwise helping grow my readership. Most of all, thank you for reading!

Just Say It!

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    • mylindaelliott profile image

      mylindaelliott 3 years ago from Louisiana

      Wonderful hub. My mother, who is only in her 70's, joined the New Neighbors Club. They go see and visit new people in our town. She loves it and it keeps her meeting people.

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Mylinda, thank you! The New Neighbors Club sounds like just the ticket to remaining involved as well as being of great service to the community. That's the perfect way to "seed" new friendships.

      Best -- Mj

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      What an awesome hub. Your Granny indeed sounded spunky, and I'm glad that your mother seems has her strong spirit. My grandmother is well into her 80s and during the last Presidential election volunteered, working the phone banks and even going to a huge public rally (I helped push her in her wheelchair). You offer some excellent suggestions for helping them stay connected -- so important. Voted up +++ and sharing.

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Sincere thanks, Flourish. I love the word "awesome" and I love it especially much when it's applied to one of my hubs! Thanks! How wonderful that your octogenarian grandmother is still so actively involved -- that's a terrific thing and she must be a heckuva lady. My granny definitely had a winning spirit -- as a teenager during WWII in England, she cut her hair and dressed as a boy to try to enlist. It made national news when she left, rejected of course, and the soldiers saluted her as she walked away. She never outgrew that wonderful attitude! It sounds like we both won the grandmother lottery, eh?

      Best wishes and thanks greatly for sharing! -- MJ

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 3 years ago

      An absolutely wonderful hub, my mother is in her middle 80's now and still has all her faculties and enjoys life. Unfortunately, she too has lost many of her friends. It is my wish that no one needs to become irrelevant - so hard for old people who suffer from this sad situation. Up, interesting and useful.

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Shelley, thank you for such kind words. I'm happy to hear your mother, too, is doing so well in her eighties. Relevancy is a critical aspect of our lives that we often don't appreciate until it is threatened.

      Best -- Mj

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from North America

      Thanks for contributing such a perfect Hub for the topic! It is very worthwhile - thoughtful, helpful, and easy to read, with practical suggestions that work. It should be required reading in a number of occupations and for all of us as we age. Rated Up and more.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This beautifully written and inspirational hub is filled with great ideas and thoughtful suggestions on how to combat the issues of aging. You are blessed to have known some really impressive elders who practiced things that kept them young.

      These are real issues for folks like my Mom who will turn 89 in a few weeks and her older sister who have only this year moved into a Skilled Nursing facility due to multiple issues. Up to that point, they lived in their own home, cooked, cleaned and maintained a household including pets. The most difficult part has been giving up their independence, yet, with this new place, they are making new friends and becoming more socially active than they've been for years.

      I really enjoyed reading this article. Thank you.

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Patty, thank you so much for inspiring this hub with your question. I originally focused more narrowly on the scope of that question (specifically, centenarians) until I received the "Your answer is too long" notice and decided to flesh it out more. Thank you for your kind comment and for encouraging so many of us to give thought to this important issue by way of your question.

      Best -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Peg, thanks tremendously! I agree … I am fortunate to have some amazing "vintage" friends and family who are inspiring and great fun. I can only imagine how difficult it was for your family to make the decision that your Mom and aunt should make the move into a nursing facility. One of my Mom's late, much-loved friends -- whom was there visiting her in the hospital the day I was born -- lived for many years in assisted living and absolutely loved it; she even became engaged to a fellow resident. It's terrific your mother and her sister have such positive attitudes.

      Best -- Mj

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      This is indeed awesome and interesting. I find ageism is alive and thriving. Like turning invisible in the deli queue. And technology is changing so quickly it's leaving me behind. I hasten to add I'm not in my eighties yet but still dismayed at how quickly time is passing. Your hub puts a great deal into perspective and is just so positive. I do agree about pets, being denied a dog or cat simply based on age is nonsense. Grrrr. Great hub and Voting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This is an absolutely wonderful hub about an important topic. It is sad the older we get when we see our family members and friends all passing on to the next life. Some people cope better than others. This could be written up as a "hot to" guide to navigating those waters we will all be crossing assuming we each live long enough. Excellent tips and suggestions! Pinning this to my health board, tweeting...and I hope the share button will work this time.

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Travmaj, I hate that society marginalizes the elderly. It rankles me when Mom and I go to lunch and when the waitress greets us, she turns to me and says, "What will she have?" I sometimes say, "Ask her!" but more often, I turn to Mom and say, "Mom, what will you have?" and force the waitress to interact with her. Good grief. But then there are the amazing people, such as the hostess who recently escorted Mom (who relies on a walker) to the parking lot while I brought the car around, or the pest control guy who services Mom's house and leaves a note if she's not there telling her he was concerned.

      The years pass, as one favorite song phrased it, "like flying bricks." Scary, that.

      Thanks so much for your comment. I always love hearing from you.

      Best -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Peggy, thank you. It saddens me not just for Mom, but on my own behalf, each time she loses a friend -- most of them, with the exception of those who live in Canada whom I've never met, have also been my friends as well -- many of Mom's friends were like family to me. Thankfully, many of those friends' children looked at my Mom the same way and reach out to her regularly. I hope that as America greys, we make more of a habit of doing so with the other "antique people" around us.

      Thanks so much for visiting and sharing! I truly appreciate it.

      Best -- MJ

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from North America

      I have shared this Hub with some additional people. It's just a tremendously useful article and engaging to read.

      Count me among the people who lament the pets not "awarded" to older folks and euthanized instead - it's needless death.

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Patty, I really appreciate it. Thanks so much. Thanks, too, for awarding it the "best answer" on your initial question.

      It is a travesty that so many over-controlling rescue groups / shelters will deny a capable, loving person a dog or cat to love based on an inane policy such as that. It isn't humane for the animal and it isn't humane for the potential owner whom has been denied an animal. If we'd all show an inch more compassion and an inch less control around others in our lives, what a difference we might make.

      Best -- Mj

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an excellent and important hub, MJ! It contains some very useful suggestions and is a great reminder for all of us about the needs of the elderly. Thank you very much for creating the article.

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Alicia, I really appreciate your comment. You are kind, indeed. Thanks so very much for your encouragement.

      Best -- MJ

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Age does have a few bad points to it, but I am looking forward to retiring some day. It will give me the chance to bird the world and teach people one-on-one about birds.

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Deb, I can't think of a more wonderful and appropriate way for you to spend your retirement. I hope if you ever bird out this way you'll look me up. From the Harris hawks that nest adjacent to our place to the plethora of hummingbird varieties, the kestrels, the Crissal thrashers and the gnatcatchers, we've got such a wonderful variety of bird life -- I never know who will greet me in the morning! One of the great joys of retirement is that I can take my cup of coffee out, sit and really watch and enjoy the animals around me. Amazing what I see that I never saw before.

      Best -- Mj

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This one is well deserving of the Hub of the Day Award! Congratulations.

    • wordswithlove profile image

      Neetu M 3 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      None of us looks forward to growing old, but most of us do, unless something takes us before our time. How we live during our youth, the path our life takes, the circumstances that create the landmarks, the choices we make define to a great extent, where we find ourselves physically and emotionally during the elderly phase of our lives. We also learn from our own elders - parents and grandparents - if we have been fortunate to be raised in a family that steered through ups and downs, separations and divorces, anger and bitterness, good times and bad times, joys and sorrows, health and sickness without them leaving us deeply scarred and barren of hope and the ability to be joyful, to be able to laugh, to be able to smile at others, to be able to trust others. So many variables exist in this world, and in the human condition that affect how we age and what attitudes we possess during the last quarter of our lives. But, if we can still love, we can find how to receive it; if we reach out to others, they will reach back out to us, and how we lived in our younger years will determine how we face the challenges of old age.

      Your mom, Mj, is a wonderful example of a woman who gave much to others and continues to do so, allowing her to reap the benefits of that attitude in her golden years.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I'm back to say congratulations on HOTD! This is an important and well done hub!

    • MJennifer profile image
      Author

      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Peg, many thanks! What a lovely surprise it is to awaken to an HOTD.

      Best -- Mj

    • MJennifer profile image
      Author

      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Neetu, thanks for your beautiful words. I particularly like your remark that "if we can still love, we can find how to receive it." I'm very fortunate to have the example of my mother and grandmother.

      Best -- Mj

    • KonshesGirl profile image

      Kristen 3 years ago from Nassau

      Great hub! My mother is 70 and became a teacher's assistant after she retired. She is also very active in the Church and still calls to boss me around so I know for sure, she's not lonely. However, she does talk about other friends of hers who don't have any family, friends or communities to sustain them. I think it's important to keep living until you are in the grave. What I mean by that is just because you are aging, don't dig yourself into an early grave. There are so many options for seniors today to get involved with others that need the companionship too. I think it's just a matter of being willing to try.

      A few years ago, I bought my mother a laptop and an IPAD because she loved listening and watching Bishop TD Jakes. The first day was a nightmare:

      "How do you turn this thing on?"

      "UM. Mom. See that button right there at the top where I put a label "ON"?"

      "This thing is the anti-christ! Look how it's finishing my words before I even type them!"

      "Mom, that's your Google search engine. I set it to finish up keywords you may be typing."

      By the first week she was emailing me video links from Youtube, had joined Facebook (where she typed messages in all CAPS) and even connected to her church. But it did take patience on my part and a willingness on hers. There are also lots of volunteer groups out there for seniors to invite companionship into their homes. The organization I used to work for in California was amazing.

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Flourish, I really appreciate it! Thanks so much!

      Best wishes -- Mj

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Kristen, that's a great dialogue with your mother -- and it reminds me of some "interesting" moments regarding the internet and my own mother. (Let's just say that it was wonderful that she joined Facebook and reconnected with several relatives, but not-so-wonderful when she didn't understand the difference between private message and posting on someone's wall -- I still call her "my Facebook felon.")

      Technology has amazing potential for reducing isolation. Too often we focus on the down-side of technology in interpersonal relationships, but for home-bound individuals, it opens many doors.

      Thanks for your excellent comment!

      Best -- Mj

    • KonshesGirl profile image

      Kristen 3 years ago from Nassau

      "Facebook Felon"! That's a new classic! You are most welcome.

    • velzipmur profile image

      Shelly Wyatt 3 years ago from Maryland

      wonderful hub! very touching and so very true.

    • MJennifer profile image
      Author

      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Shelly, thank you! I truly appreciate that. Thanks for your kind comment!

      Best -- Mj

    • liesl5858 profile image

      Linda Bryen 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      What a wonderful hub about the elderly people. I am a carer and I have seen a lot of elderly people living on their own, their choice but sometimes it can be hard for them. Even getting up from their own bed is a struggle. One elderly lady nearly killed herself because she just wanted to end her suffering. She got two sons but they live far away from her. I do feel for the elderly people when they are left to their own devices. In my country(Philippines), we look after everyone including our grandma and grand dad.

    • MJennifer profile image
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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Liesl, thank you for the lovely comment. I have such respect and admiration for caregivers such as yourself. The simple things most of us take for granted -- whether it's opening a jar or rising from a fall -- take heroic effort for many of the elderly. It's a shame that here in the US that the elderly rarely live in the homes of their adult children -- my own mother refuses to do so. Kudos to all who care for their aging parents.

      Best -- Mj

    • Laura335 profile image

      Laura Smith 3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      I work with a woman who is going to be 87 next month, and she has a fear of dying and the sadness of having outlived most of her family and friends. Working keeps her busy and healthy and happy, but once in a while, you hear her say something like "if I'm alive next year" or "if so-and-so was still alive". It's sad how we all want to live to a ripe old age, but then we get so lonely when we make it to that age and no one else has. Thanks for the tips!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Your mom sounds like a delightful person, and your granny obviously shared the same family humor gene.

      I'll be 71 in eleven days, but feel older because of health issues and limited mobility. I always expected to be a very active senior, but things didn't work out that way. Because of this, I do spend a lot of time at home. Alhough my son visits me every week, and several of my adult grandchildren either call to check on me or come by my house. I also have some good friends, but a couple live in other cities, and one is in worse physical condition than I am. This means we talk on the phone and send emails. It suffices to keep us in touch, which is very important.

      My dog is my constant companion, and I can relate to your Mom holding her dog. My furbaby sleeps next to me on her own pillow. When I stop reading to go to sleep, I turn over on my side facing the edge of the bed. At that point, she turns over and backs up next to my back. (Of course, by morning, she's lying sideways with her feet pushing me nearly off the bed!) She's scheduled to have surgery next Tuesday, and will probably be kept in the vet hospital for two nights. I'll bet I won't sleep either of those nights because I'm so accustomed to her presence.

      Great hub with an important message and a nice dash of humor.

      Voted Up++++ and shared

      Jaye

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      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      "Congratulations for Hub of the Day." This one is very deserving of that honor.

      I wrote and submitted a previous lengthy comment, and when it didn't appear I thought it must need to be approved first. Then I came back because I forgot to congratulate you for HOTD. This one stayed, so perhaps the first one is out in the ether somewhere. I may check tomorrow and if I don't see it try to reconstruct what I wrote...or not. Anyway, I enjoyed this hub, and its important message resonated with me.

      Jaye

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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Jaye, thank you for the congrats! I don't know what cyber-gremlins have taken your previous comment -- I don't see it on my end, either. I hope you'll share your thoughts despite the technical difficulty. I appreciate it.

      Best -- Mj

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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Laura, many years ago when I was grieving the death of my father, a sage old friend told me, "We're either burying our friends or they're burying us." Sad thought as it is, it does put it in perspective -- someone must go and the other must grieve, and at some point we question which is the more fortunate.

      Thanks for your interesting comment.

      Best -- Mj

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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Jaye, your comment just "arrived" -- it required me to check "not spam" for some reason and didn't show in the comment queue. I'm glad it appeared.

      I can too well relate to what you mean by not anticipating those early-onset mobility limitations. It complicates the retirement years tremendously. Having had my own wings slightly clipped this year with some injuries put me a little more in touch with the reality of limited mobility and ability to pursue things we always swore we'd do "when we have more time." If only we could bottle time and health, eh?

      I hope your dog fares very well this week. I can't sleep without my own furbutts taking up a substantial amount of room on the bed.

      Best wishes and thank you for your kind comment -- Mj

    • Esther  Strong profile image

      Esther Strong 3 years ago from UK

      THANK YOU for writing this. It will help many people realise what challenges elderly people face on a daily basis and hopefully inspire people to reach out more. Also a head up to what we can do to help ourselves in the future. Voted up etc.

      ps: Your mother and grandmother are inspiration to us all.

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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Esther, what a kind and meaningful comment. Thank you so much! Maybe someday people will consider planning for future social needs as essential as planning for financial needs when considering retirement and old age.

      Best -- Mj

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      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from North America

      Congratulations on HOTD! The first time I read this article, I thought it should be a Hub of the Day, as well as a reference for anyone interested in aging and the inherent life changes of it.

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      Better Yourself 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Excellent hub and one I can relate to significantly! We just moved my grandparents into an assisted living facility nearby and its so great that they have so much independence with their own little apartment inside the facility, daily activities like dance lessons, music, workout classes, crafts that get auctioned for charity and they serve meals like being at a restaurant. Its great they get to have their little poodle so they take her on walks several times a day. And because they are so close we get to visit regularly and enjoy the time we have left with them! Hope this helps others understand how to enjoy and appreciate their elderly loved ones!

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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Patty, thank you so much for inspiring this hub with your question prompt and for your kind and encouraging words. Writing it has been cause of much retrospection as well. I remember being a small child and having many amazing friends who were elderly. They were so kind to me and I learned a lot of their old-world skills, from embroidery to candle-making to whittling. More recently, I studied leatherwork from master saddlemakers in their seventies. I hope that my own presence as an avid and interested learner was as important to their own sense of involvement as their tutelage was to me. In my ideal world, assisted living facilities would offer not only classes for the residents but a chance for them to teach the young as well.

      Thanks again and best wishes -- MJ

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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Better Yourself, thank you so much for your comment! I'm glad to hear your grandparents are able to keep their little dog at their new apartment. That is so, so important. It sounds like a terrific facility -- and they are lucky to have you close by.

      Best -- MJ

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      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent article about reducing isolation in the elderly!

      Very touching and a must read for everyone, since all of us have to reach there one day. The world will be a beautiful and sensitive place, if people start thinking by keeping themselves in the 'other person's place'.

      Somehow I missed to read this amazing hub earlier. Congratulations for a well deserved HOTD!

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      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Chitrangada. What wise words to live by -- to keep in "the other person's place." What a difference we could all make by doing so.

      Best -- MJ

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      Johnk803 2 years ago

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      Marcy J. Miller 2 years ago from Arizona

      Oh, John, thank you so very much. I sincerely appreciate your kind words.

      Best -- Mj

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