I have to say I am extremely lucky to have a close group of friends. I met my friends at different stages throughout my life. I have close friends who I’ve known for over 30 years, friends who I met throughout my teenage years and friends who I met through my children. The older I get I realize that it isn’t the quantity of friends you have but the quality of friends. Over the last several months, I have truly seen the importance of having friends. My friends are people who I can rely on and friends who have been there through my highs and my lows.
On New Year’s Eve I went out with my husband and children for dinner. When I walked into the restaurant we were literally the youngest ones there. Every table was full – full of men and women approximately 80yrs of age and up. I looked at everyone there and I got a huge smile on my face. At first I felt a little out of place, but then, this feeling of complete happiness came over me. I was happy because they were out, amongst friends having a good time. I was eavesdropping on some of the conversations. One table was talking about sex (which made my oldest son almost choke on his soup), another table was talking about winning the lottery and the table behind us couldn’t wait to get their bottle of wine opened. My children were looking in amazement and actually asked, “Shouldn’t they be home in bed?”…It was only 8pm.
I’m not sure of the dynamics at play at each table, or what brought them together, but I loved that no one was alone and each had a partner, a friend, or a spouse to bring in the New Year.
As the elderly population ages it is extremely important that they don’t become socially isolated as it can lead to depression. There are many causes of depression in the elderly; decline in one’s health, increase in loneliness, or death of a spouse. There are many different signs that one should watch out for;
- Losing interest in hobbies
- Withdrawing socially
- Weight loss/loss of appetite
- Sleep disturbances
- Worries of being a burden
- Increased use of alcohol
- Fixation on death
If you know someone who is experiencing some of these signs please have them see their doctor. Sometimes the right medical intervention can significantly improve their state of mind and make them feel better.
There are many ways for the aging population to increase their social stimulation:
Participation in an organized group: Find your interest and see if there is a group and/or club in your community. Book clubs, cards, Mah Jong, baking, whatever your interest try to find a weekly and/or monthly club were you can go and participate and be among others sharing a common interest.
Senior Day Programs: Senior Day programs are a great way for the elderly to have structured activities in an organized environment. Depending on the program the participant can participate in a half day or full day. It is a great way for the primary caregiver to get respite while their spouse is being taking care of in a structured program.
Senior Centers: Senior centers are a great way to increase your social activity; lectures, exercise groups, classes, courses are all great ways to meet other people all while having fun. The senior centers generate a very positive vibe as everyone is there by choice and looking for companionship and friendship. There are some great senior centers in the Montreal area.
Support Groups: Support groups not only allow you to seek help but also meet others who are in the same position as you and experiencing the same difficulties. There are a broad range of support groups depending on your need. There is a common goal where everyone is seeking help and there is a comfort knowing that you are not alone.
Here are some great role model inspirations to keep you young at heart:
- Hariette Thompson, 91yrs old, ran a marathon
- At age 82 actress Cloris Leachman participated in Dancing with The Stars
- Dilys Price, 81yrs old, oldest female skydiver
- Sister Madonna Buder the oldest person to complete the Ironman Triathlon
So don’t let age stop you, get out and have fun, remember age is just a number!
Wishing you all good things for 2015