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Old 08-13-2011, 03:48 PM
 
Location: New England
11,369 posts, read 7,206,519 times
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Default Aloneness in Old Age

I had a long lunch today with a dear (older, a "young" 82) friend who is a retired professional. One of the topics of our conversation was the recent road trip she took from here to Texas and back, stopping in 5 or 6 states to visit longtime friends who are also old but in much worse shape healthwise than she.

Every one of these friends she visited was either never married, or divorced, but in any case living alone for many years, most without families nearby. She described how these elders are now experiencing serious health decline--MS, Alzheimer's, diabetes, arthritis, etc--in their 80s. She also said how sad it was to not only see these once-vibrant friends in a degenerative state, in nursing homes or assisted living, but how it disturbed her that they were each really, really alone despite having a few family members (who don't come to see them). Her drive to Texas was actually to see a desperately lonely woman in a nursing home who is just wasting away her days, she is in such bad shape physically.

Her stories really set me thinking even harder about the choices we have as we age, in terms of relocating to new cities and towns, away from folks we know. Of course we cannot (and in many cases should not) depend on family for care, but we could at least hope for visits when we are in that kind of condition. Can't we? And what about close friends who are still active and healthy--what if they are too consumed with their family life, etc. to visit very often.

I'm wondering if anyone here who lives alone and/or has very few family members has made specific "where to live" decisions based on what I describe above. It seems like there are a number of seniors on the forums who live alone.
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Old 08-13-2011, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Wisconsin
13,171 posts, read 16,112,595 times
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I am extremely independent and have 'done' for myself my entire life, but I would never at this age move away from family to an unfamiliar area. This story has been told before, but my aunt and uncle, second parents to me really and from whom I lived a couple miles away, had an agonizing last few years because both their children lived far away when they were needed most. It was hard on everyone and appalling to me. I was still working full-time. My cousins - their daughter/sil retired, son semi-retired.

One NYEve I was called by their daughter in MI, who had just got a call from a neighbor, that her father had been taken to the hospital. So, off to the hospital I went at 11 at night. This just after his son had left a few hours earlier in a hurry to make the five-hour trip home for a NYEve party.

I was 63 at the time my aunt finally died two years later - alone in a nursing home - while I was staying with/caring for my 56 y/o sister who had just undergone emergency open-heart surgery. My cousins, their children, were in northern Wisconsin and Michigan.

Terrible situation given how both my aunt and uncle were all about the family and couldn't do enough for everyone their entire lives. At least the daughter finally did make it here before her father died a few months later. Her mother died alone in the nursing home two years after that.

Because of this, I have been giving serious consideration to having my sister live with me when she retires in the next few years. She never married, has friends here and there but, lately, isn't doing well. Various health issues which get worse the older she gets. My health is fine. We have different mothers and she has her mother's ailments. Emotionally and psychologically, I do think we are healthier not living alone - assuming no dysfunction.

Last edited by Ariadne22; 08-13-2011 at 04:32 PM..
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Old 08-13-2011, 04:30 PM
 
5,100 posts, read 5,592,036 times
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But, sometimes "elderly" people make such choices.

We recently lost my uncle, my aunt died last summer. they chose to live miles from any relatives, out in the middle of Oklahoma. When they moved, they cited job reasons, etc. ok, we do have a large extended family, but they chose to live miles from nobody. their main reason----they didn't want to be too 'accessible" to be a hand for raising grandkids, hit up for loans, etc. they somehow got the idea they were viewed as 'loaded' and everyone wanted a piece of thier pie.

Hey, we all managed to iive quite well without them. Everytime we tried to itneraact, either to visit them or invite them to visit us, well, they got suspicious. Ok, now they're dead, too late!
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Old 08-13-2011, 04:38 PM
 
10,362 posts, read 7,776,643 times
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This is why I plan to take control of my own destiny when I get old or infirm enough to need assisted living. If I'm not capable of doing it myself, I have a promise from a family member who knows how to help me without getting caught. Of course, it helps that I believe in an afterlife and that there's something better waiting for us all.
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Old 08-13-2011, 04:39 PM
 
Location: Wisconsin
13,171 posts, read 16,112,595 times
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Oh, wow. Well, different strokes. None of those issues applied here. Kids involuntarily moved away because of employment, not vice versa. Aunt/uncle helped everyone financially over the years, including me and my brother. We didn't ask ever - they just did it. Felt because my mother had died young, we were 'theirs' also. They should have moved to Michigan to be near their daughter, but having lived since birth in this area, just couldn't bring themselves to do it. I miss them every single day. They were big figures in my life - and that of my son.
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Old 08-13-2011, 04:47 PM
 
693 posts, read 458,249 times
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Being alone in is not only about not being near family. The fact that many friends have passed on or are not physically able to visit create a feeling of lonliness. My mom had us and we visited often, but none of us lived close enough to see her daily. She would often comment that she was the last of her siblings. She did go to church and talked to the neighbors, but the lonliness was still there. There was an older man who lived near her who did not have family near, so he moved into her house as a roommate. That made all the difference for her because she had someone with whom she could talk to and have meals. The move was good of both of them and I believe that they both were healthier and lived longer because of each other.

When a person gets to the point of not being entirely independent, perception on life changes. Being older and alone is hard. Even when there is family willing to take in older parents, or other family members, many of them, like my mom, don't want to leave their homes and the neighborhood they know, so they just tough it out. As I write this, it creates old age fears that I never really gave much thought.
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Old 08-13-2011, 05:41 PM
 
Location: Lexington, SC
4,281 posts, read 4,366,687 times
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As one ages they should "address" the ramifications of aging while physically/mentally capable to do so. To not do so may well mean (almost assures) they will become a burden on others even if they never meant to become such a burden.

Yes age does "sneak" up on one but:

Let us make an assumption here. As this is an Internet chat and you are here, it probably means you have some capabilites...proven by the fact that you are/got here....so the question is have you made plans?

Rather then horror, poor me, stories, maybe we can make this "morbid" chat more educational/helpful with suggestions, ideas, etc. how to plan, address such.
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Old 08-13-2011, 05:58 PM
 
Location: delaware
477 posts, read 301,874 times
Reputation: 1104
Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
I had a long lunch today with a dear (older, a "young" 82) friend who is a retired professional. One of the topics of our conversation was the recent road trip she took from here to Texas and back, stopping in 5 or 6 states to visit longtime friends who are also old but in much worse shape healthwise than she.

Every one of these friends she visited was either never married, or divorced, but in any case living alone for many years, most without families nearby. She described how these elders are now experiencing serious health decline--MS, Alzheimer's, diabetes, arthritis, etc--in their 80s. She also said how sad it was to not only see these once-vibrant friends in a degenerative state, in nursing homes or assisted living, but how it disturbed her that they were each really, really alone despite having a few family members (who don't come to see them). Her drive to Texas was actually to see a desperately lonely woman in a nursing home who is just wasting away her days, she is in such bad shape physically.

Her stories really set me thinking even harder about the choices we have as we age, in terms of relocating to new cities and towns, away from folks we know. Of course we cannot (and in many cases should not) depend on family for care, but we could at least hope for visits when we are in that kind of condition. Can't we? And what about close friends who are still active and healthy--what if they are too consumed with their family life, etc. to visit very often.

I'm wondering if anyone here who lives alone and/or has very few family members has made specific "where to live" decisions based on what I describe above. It seems like there are a number of seniors on the forums who live alone.


i feel you raise interesting and important questions, ones that i have often considered. i had older parents who have been dead for many years, no siblings, and no children. my husband was my family for all the years we were together, and since his death nine years ago, i've been involved for eight years with a significant other ; we are really family for each other. we have all the requisite papers-wills, power of attorney, medical decision- making- in place , but, more importantly, we have talked about what our individual health needs may be as we grow older, as we are committed to each other for the remainder of our lives. each of us has already been called upon to support the other during some significant medical episodes, and we know these may become more frequent and more serious in the years ahead.
i have confidence that he will support me and he feels the same. however, having lost a husband at fifty eight, i know how unpredictable life can be and how fragile our supports can become when life changes suddenly. if he were to pre decease me, i don't think i would want to remain in the area where i am. therefore, i stay in fairly close contact with several friends, two who are very long-term and more like family, who live in a town where i used to live. i visit frequently and we talk on the phone often. even though there are several places i've thought about living in so-called retirement, i am living where i am now because of my relationship with the significant other, and i would strongly consider moving back to the town where i used to live, if left completely alone, because of my relationship with friends there. although i can ruminate about the desirability of other locales, now and in the future, the reality is i don't feel i have the luxury, at this age and stage of my life, to go where i would not know anyone and have to begin again.

catsy girl
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Old 08-13-2011, 06:18 PM
Status: "Have you hugged your dog today?" (set 20 days ago)
 
6,136 posts, read 2,551,045 times
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not everyone has that option. I couldn't afford to live where I grew up! (Not sure I'd want to anyway).

I think about this some but don't really see a solution. I do have long term care insurance but the social/people aspect will just have to be whatever they are.
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Old 08-13-2011, 06:31 PM
 
Location: Olympic Peninsula, WA
108 posts, read 108,739 times
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You've touched on a subject that is lurking in my future. My parents are deceased and both my sisters moved away. My daughter doesn't respond to the cards and gifts I send at Christmas and birthdays, along with cheery invites to visit. It is what it is. I've decided to move to another state where the cost of living is slightly less and the weather more to my liking. While working my entire life, I've not socialized outside of work. Since I will be retiring soon, I plan on joining a local senior hiking club and doing some volunteer work. I may even pick up a part time retail job that would position me to meet the community. I may visit a church or two, attend local events, and seek a fishing partner. I plan on reaching out to make friends. I'm not "needy" and have a lot to offer in a friendship. Once they taste my cooking, they'll be "hooked"! The point is, I don't have to be lonely as long as I'm able to get around on my own. When I can no longer manage alone, I will sell my home and live in an assisted care home and party down with my "roomies." The one my sisters and I put my dad in was really great, I wouldn't have minded living there. They had all kinds of planned events, entertainment, field trips and visitors. Seniors would volunteer to visit each resident at least once a week for several hours. My dad even had a girlfriend at the home! (He didn't think we knew!) He seemed pretty happy!
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