Today’s seniors are living increasing longer lives thanks to advances in medicine, better access to a healthy diet and older adults who are embracing an active lifestyle. But living into very old age, even in good health, can be a double-edged sword.
Outliving a spouse, friends and family is perhaps one of the greatest challenges of living longer. Keeping mentally and physically fit and in good health is only a joy when it can be shared with loved ones. And social isolation can quickly lead older adults into an emotional and physical decline.
As we age it is important to maintain close social ties with friends and family of all ages, not only our peers of the same age. We might outlive our college roommates and while sharing a wealth of common experiences is the foundation of many relationships, having people in your life of all ages is also important to staying current and relevant in a changing society.
And although someone may have lived a long and full life, those left behind must be allowed to mourn their loss and given time to heal. We may intellectually understand that a sibling in their 90s may not be long for the world, but it’s important for family and friends to remember we feel loss in the same way, no matter what our age. With time, grief softens and the ability to remember dear friends and family from the best of times with a smile, returns.
Keeping busy is a good way to avoid letting grief or depression take hold. Seniors who have experienced loss may want to consider volunteering at a school or hospital, joining a book group or taking a class and in doing so, a shrinking circle of friends can gradually expand. No matter what their age, it can be a challenge for some people to step out of their comfort zone but remaining in isolation and grief is no way to live. And the departed would surely want their loved-ones to continue living their best possible life.
To read more about ways to meet new people, nurture friendships and embrace a brighter outlook, visit the Mayo Clinic website by following this link.