Rona Barrett

Rona Barrett

It’s biological: we all want to feel connected. When that specific sperm joined that specific egg we were connected, right? Then, through our mother’s wondrous umbilical cord we were further connected.

But nine months later nature told us it was time we sever our wondrous connection to our mother’s womb.

So we learned new ways to become connected out in the world: through family, faith, friendships, work, love, marriage, and raising our own family.

And some of us are better at staying connected than others, right?

But staying connected can become more and more challenging as we move into our later years: family or friends may have passed on, we no longer work so we have lost touch with those we enjoyed working with, some of us have lost our spouse or loved one, and the family we raised may be in the throes of their own connection issues. Also, we may have mobility issues, hearing or sight loss. Some of us no longer drive.

All of this can lead to finding ourselves more and more alone. Being alone too much can lead to loneliness. Loneliness can lead to depression. Loneliness and depression leads to elevated stress, impaired immune system function, inflammation, high blood pressure, depression, cognitive dysfunction and an earlier-than-expected death in older adults according to information at https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/older-adults-can-recover-loneliness.

But we’re not going to give up a lifetime of connecting, are we? As Albert Schweitzer said, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

I say, “Let’s start rekindling!” Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to admit you’re feeling lonely. Start by smiling every chance you get, wherever you are. If you live alone, invite a neighbor in for a cup of coffee or tea. As C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

Computers, laptops, or tablets can help you reach out to family and friends using Skype or FaceTime, Facebook or Twitter, if you’re so inclined.

Or keep it simple and use the phone – to speak. To my way of thinking, speaking to each other offers a much deeper connection than texting.

Visit your nearest Senior Center to beat the lonely blues. If you can’t get there on your own, don’t be afraid to ask for a ride!

The nonprofit Buellton Senior Center has worked to improve the quality of life, total health, and wellbeing of seniors since 1976. Reach them online.

The Solvang Senior Center strives “to enhance the lives of community members...by providing resources and opportunities for growth in mind, body and spirit.” Call 805-688-3793 or go online.

Santa Maria’s Elwin E. Mussell Senior Citizens Center offers ways to “Enjoy Life to the Fullest! Call 805-925-0951 Ext. 2207 or go online.

I love what Bette Midler had to say on the subject, “...You got to have friends to make the day last long...”

Make that day last long, my friends. Rekindle – and stay connected!

Until next time...keep thinking the good thoughts.

Senior activist and local resident Rona Barrett is the driving force behind the Golden Inn & Village (GIV), the area’s first affordable senior living facility. GIV strives to bring services to seniors so they may age in place. Reach her at info@ronabarrettfoundation.org. Visit www.ronabarrettfoundation.org for more information.

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