I’m sure you are quite fed-up of hearing the words, recharge yourself, motivate yourself, and think positive. They really are strong and powerful words to use while you are trying to advise friends to uplift themselves and deal with life.
However when it comes to applying it to you, it’s another ball game.
I mean, I can tell myself to be positive, read motivational quotes every morning, read Jay Shetty’s book “Think Like A Monk”, applying it to your life on a daily basis, especially when you are living alone in a single-person household, which is kind of a norm for people as they age, often leading to Social Isolation due to lack of the human touch.
A common phenomena: Interacting with people gets tiring, asking family for support is also a dying practice, but let me tell you that this does lead to poorer mental and physical health.
Replacing the social framework that previously existed in previous generations like the joint family living, close-knit families living in the same area, big nuclear families or religious communities, with these systems there was a continuous buzz of activities for all age groups, even just being an observer of children’s activities brought joy. Just being around people all the time, gave people a sense of belonging and well-being.
Let’s not dwell on the down side of life, it turns out that it doesn’t take much to lift lonely hearts in older adults.
Today the complex challenge for societies where social connections are not prioritized, attending professionally structured events are beneficial to mental health and well-being. Hence even governments are encouraging and promoting set-ups for older age groups.
Clubs or groups have become so common, all you need to do is enroll and they set you off on a journey of constantly planned events.
A survey on caretakers for older adults, showed a great improvement in well-being of those who attended these activities, getting out and about. They moved from moderate well being to confident and happy.
I have a friend who has lived all her life in Lonavala, born and brought up in, simple country lifestyle. She is eighty-five today, lives in a small cottage, her children live overseas and rarely come to India. She wakes up at six am, cleans her home, cooks for herself, walks six kms daily and visits the market on alternate days, chats with the shop owners to get her feed of world news. Weekends are filled with visits from city people who have driven down for a weekend of quiet country life. This eighty five year old has the well-being of a sixty year old, the reason; she is always around people, be it teaching the gardener’s children, listening to sob stories of the “aiyabhai” or catching up with friends. She has managed this in a small town, with few inhabitants to keep her MOJO going, interacting with people is oxygen to the soul.
She has structured her life to achieve this sense of well-being.
I interviewed a caretaker, who is married, works a high-powered full time job, two children and looks after her eighty-one year old father.
Caretaker: “My dad is eighty-one years old, in spite of living with me and my family, a home full of people, is depressed. I am at work 9am to 6pm, after which I have to see to the family dinner and household chores, leaving me with not much time for long chats with my dad on a daily basis. Though his every need is taken care of, he is lonely and depressed. I came across a group for elders who played housie every Friday evenings for two hours. I got my dad to attend and every time he is back, he has a wide smile on his face, he so looks forward to Friday evening housie, his outfit, shave, hair do, are all planned a week ahead. Mind you, no repeat of outfits. What a difference it has made. What an upliftment to his life.”
She has structured her father’s life to achieve this sense of well-being for him.
The number of women going on holiday with their friends, rather their significant others, has seen a marked growth. In the past six years there has been an approximately two hundred percent rise in the number of women-only travel companies, presumably prompted by consumer demand. More recently, a new study conducted by Harvard University found there to be significant health benefits of social connections such as going on a break with friends. “Social connections like these not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet and not smoking.” There is a perception that the older we get, we shouldn’t need to go on holiday with our female friends, trips away with friends tend to be replaced by couples’ retreats and, then later, family breaks. A good all-women holiday can be an enriching experience indeed because, frankly, female bonding doesn’t age. Structured life to achieve this sense of well-being.
It is proven again and again that “Age-old strategies” of simple activities or events do boost your life.
Let’s not make catching up that strange space between Christmas and New Year with nothing in between. Once every fortnight an outing to meet up and socialize is recommended for your well-being.
Old Friendships are fulfilling and vital, so perhaps a holiday to visit your friend in another country, your precious, rare, alone time, it is still the biggest form of recognition to a cherished friend.
Excursions, group based weekly outings build and bridge relationships.
It creates a sense of belonging and inclusion, while addressing social loneliness.
For the adventurous- horse riding, river cruises, spiritual trips to temples-churches-mosques or Gurudwaras.
For those who prefer not to travel: outings to musicals, movies, Satsangs, fine dining or a café coffee.
There is a multitude to choose from. With that in mind, we make the case for older adult outings and holidays a must do. If you are on your own you think, “I won’t do that or I’ll do that tomorrow,” but if you have booked, paid and signed-up through professionally organized event companies, you will get excited as the day draws near and feel uplifted.
A sure shot ticket to WELL-BEING!