Sunday, March 3, 2024

How to live alone and embrace it

How to Live Alone and Embrace It

Man was not meant to be an island. It is an integral part of our being to be social and coexist with other people, writes Vinita Alvares Fernandes

Man was not meant to be an island. It is an integral part of our being to be social and coexist with other people. 

There are several reasons why older adults over 60 tend to find themselves living alone. By choice, death of a spouse, no children, no family nearby or no family at all, divorce or just being a recluse. For many seniors, living alone is ideal. While many enjoy living alone and like the independence that comes with it, living alone does come with a few age related downsides.

You can be alone without being lonely

Being alone isn’t necessarily the same as being lonely. Being alone just means that you are physically alone. There is no one in your space. Being lonely on the other hand is a different ball game. It’s being emotionally alone. You crave human company but you feel isolated. You long for companionship. If you are living alone and experiencing feelings of loneliness, there are ways to address it and change it. 

For seniors who want to continue living alone or are new to living alone here are a few tips to embrace this time with yourself, with being independent and safe — 

Stay in good health —

One of the biggest risks for single household seniors is their health. Falling and injuring yourself rates the highest of all risks as very often you cannot get up to reach or ask for help. It’s essential for seniors who live alone to stay as healthy as possible by staying physically active, eating healthy foods, taking your medication on time, getting plenty of sleep, drinking enough water and most importantly, keeping your mind alert and active. 

Get to know yourself better —

Living alone can help you work on the most important relationship; the one you have with yourself. Living alone is like a self-discovery journey. You can do what you like, eat the food you like, decorate your house according to your taste and delve deep into your core to know your true self. A well-developed sense of self can make it easier to live alone. Try journaling to sort through your thoughts or doing some breathing exercises and meditation in your spare time. Take advantage of nobody being around to interrupt you while you sit back, read your favourite book and have a quiet cup of tea.

Strengthen your relationships —

Apart from strengthening the relationship you have with yourself, living alone gives you a chance to examine the other relationships in your life, the ones tht lift you higher, ones you need to work on, and ones that aren’t helping you. You can prioritise important connections in your life and remember to spend the most time with people who make you happy. 

Keep plenty of medication on hand —

If you are a senior who is living alone, please keep important and basic medication on hand. Running out of medication, especially during an emergency is a totally avoidable situation. 

Identify when you feel most lonely —

No matter how much you enjoy living alone, you are bound to feel lonely from time to time. These occasional feelings are normal and it’s important to direct them towards a positive outcome. Knowing where the loneliness feelings are stemming from can help you manage it. If you’re a morning person try meeting your friends for a morning walk or go to a restaurant for brunch. If your evenings feel quiet, listen to some music and sip a glass of wine or call a friend or relative for some light conversation. Going to the theatre or cinema does not always require company and is an instant pick-me-up. 

P.S. If your loneliness is more physical in nature, don’t overlook the value of hugging yourself.

Consider a house alert system —

The markets are flourishing with new and improved senior friendly home alert systems. Having an alarm system and emergency alert system to notify your next of kin in case of an emergency is an excellent idea for any senior who lives alone. This is one of the most important tips I would share with anyone staying alone, the only way to get timely help in case of a medical situation. Dont waste time setting yourself up. It does save lives!

Connect with your community —

Loneliness doesn’t always strike when you think it will. It can creep up on you. The key to avoid feeling lonely is to explore new ways to connect with your community and the people around you. Get to know your neighbours, join a laughter club or kitty party or even walks in your neighbourhood can help you meet new people and make new friends.

Have a list of emergency contacts —

Emergency contacts are crucial for any senior who lives alone. The list should include medical professionals, caretakers, family members, neighbours and friends.

Add some structure to your life —

Following a regular schedule can boost your sense of purpose and motivation. A routine often relieves stress and loneliness because you know what you need to do next. Making regular plans with friends and family is another great way to keep loneliness at bay. While a routine can do you a lot of good, there’s no need to plan out every minute of every day, leave room for spontaneity!

Try new things —

Exploring new interests is an important part of self-discovery. Be brave and try new pursuits.

Create your ideal space and adapt your home to make it age friendly —

While interior design isn’t the solution to loneliness, livening up your surroundings and living in a house that feels like a home that reflects your tastes and interests can make you feel better. Creating a space that is wholly your own can go a long way in helping you feel more comfortable and at peace. 

Learn technology —

Learning technology might be very intimidating especially when half your life is over. But technology can be a wonderful thing, especially when you are living alone. You can stay in touch with your loved ones through video calls and texts, correspond with your doctors and medical professionals from the comfort of your own home. Staying technologically connected in this day and age is a a ticket to connectivity, get on the bandwagon quick. 

Find the positives —

Living alone can be super liberating. You can wear what you want, do what you want, eat what you want and live life according to your rules and at your desired pace. The benefits of solo living extend well beyond these immediate pluses. It leads to a better imagination, more creativity, keeps your mind alert allows you to have down time and recharge and most importantly gives you a safe space to grow and discover new things about yourself. 

To conclude…

Check-in often and reach out for support, seniors who live alone should check in often with friends and family members. Having a strong support system makes life a little easier and a lot less scary. Acknowledging your needs will help you take the necessary steps toward finding a living situation that supports your well-being. If you are having a hard time living alone, reach out to the people in your life. Everyone will be more than willing to help you as it’s not always easy living alone. So embrace the time and space you have with yourself but don’t forget that man isn’t an island and people need people. 

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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