Turning Conversation into Companionship
For Folks Who Weren’t Born Yesterday
By Joni Douglas
Age doesn’t matter; people were not meant to be alone. Deep in the heart of every man and woman is the need for companionship. I’m talking friendship, love and caring. Everyone is touched by the love shared in their lives. When that love is missing, or even a portion of it, the loneliness can be consuming. Whether you are a widow, widower or just alone, the silence can be deafening. The need to replace the companionship comes swiftly to many. Some may have a hard time relating to new experiences and the different levels of friendship.
The ‘how to get out there and meet people’ questions may never come up. Church and community events may already be a part of your life, giving you the needed companionship. But what about those who are not up to society functions? They may want to consider taking a peek at the internet, where they are provided a window to the world. Communication is the key to starting new friendships. Talking and sharing are the tools we use when getting to know people. For many, those skills are rusty. Just like riding a bike, you never really forget how and you may have a wobbly start but you will be surprised at how quickly friendships can develop.
Chat rooms and forums, like the one shown here, are set up for seniors to meet and chat, share their stories or maybe to discuss topics of interest to them. Hot topics and headlines or just a joke to share, find one to suit your fancy and you’ll be making friends all over the world.
There are sites on the internet that offer so much more than the standard game of solitaire installed on most computers. Game sites such as Pogo are true hits with seniors. Just register and play. Links are provided to connect with your Facebook friends for team play.
Facebook and MySpace are social networking sites that allow you to meet and stay in touch with people all over the world. Join groups to stay informed or just to offer your two cents. Send virtual flowers; find old friends, post photos or your favorite quotes. There is even an instant message link to chat with friends in real time.
Pick a subject that you like and the internet has a place for you. For instance, are you an RVer? Love to travel and see the country? Share your adventures with other folks that love the same thing. Have a complaint against certain parks or brands of RVs? Join the forum and spread the word.
Are you a grandparent? Do you love to share those cute little stories or those adorable photos of your grandchildren? Want great ideas of fun things to do with your grandchildren? Fun places to go? It’s all out there waiting for you to find.
Perhaps your interest lies more in quick connections with family and friends. The internet still has the answer for you. Programs are out there that allow real time chatting without subscribing to a site. Instant messaging on the internet is provided by all email providers. Using text based communication like email, you can have instant communication. Yahoo is just one of the instant messaging programs available.
Twitter is a social networking and micro blogging service that allows you answer the question, "What are you doing?" by sending short text messages, called "tweets", to your friends, using the computer or your phone.
Skype is quickly becoming the most popular method of communicating with loved ones, either with the camera option or without it. With Skype you can make free calls over the internet to other people on Skype for as long as you like, to wherever you like. It is free to download and free to use with most internet programs. Now you can see your grandchild taking his/her first steps as they happen.
Companionship can take many forms and certainly means different things to different people. We have attempted to provide you with options and avenues to pursue the type of companionship that you are looking for. Whether you want to meet new friends, learn new things, or just require easier communication with family and friends, the above links will certainly have just the right choice for you.
Being alone is not always easy. We all look for that best friend who loves you just the way you are. The one person who will support you in all your endeavors. Someone who will cry with you when tears are called for and celebrate with you as well. Many of us have had that person in our life and now acutely feel the absence. Voids do get filled in time. Fill yours with happiness and friendship. Learn something new everyday. Joy is contagious, let’s spread it around.
"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." …Gandhi
As we discuss companionship for seniors, a couple of other things come to mind. When seeking the next level of companionship to include a certain measure of care, programs are setup in every community to provide an avenue no matter if you are the one who hires a companion out of a need or you are a companion who wishes to contribute. Senior Centers are a great place to get started.
For those who are looking for a way to volunteer, there are many choices available. Some seniors with an entrepreneurial spirit have even started a new home business as an elderly companion. From a full time position to just a few hours a week, any bit of help is always appreciated. National programs are also available to check out online. One such program is here:
For those needing companionship, programs are established for care giving from national organizations to community programs. Whether it is a trip to the doctor or live in care, there are companions out there offering their assistance. The Administration on Aging's goal is to inform older adults and their caregivers about benefits available to them. Information is available that provides many resources for helping and coping with aging concerns: