This topic came to mind today from an experience I had years ago. My friend, who was hospitalized at the time, called to inform me of her admission and asked me to come to visit. Of course, no one wants to hear of a friend or family hospitalized, so I agreed to visit. As we all know, life gets in the way, and we get distracted by our individual agendas, so I let her know ‘tomorrow’ I would come. Tomorrow turned into the next day, but the next day, I received news my friend, Mary, died. She had been battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a group of cancers known as lymphoma. Lymphoma is a general term used to describe cancers that affect the lymphatic system, especially the lymph nodes. Mary had many admission in her teenage years, so I felt we had more time to chat and hang out. Well, time ran out. I was so sad, hurt, mad at myself, and felt terrible for years. I think of Mary often and wonder what our last hug would feel like…what our last words would have been. Every time I walked past Indiana Avenue in Toledo, I thought of Mary and vowed going forward, if a person came across my mind, I will pick up the phone or pay a visit.
You may ask, where am I going with this. Well, I’m glad you asked. Many of our elders are alone and feel isolated. We all have felt those feelings for sure. The elderly have the same feelings. Remember the empty nest syndrome? An empty nest can affect older adults. We can prepare for the experience, but how do we pivot for the transition when it really happens. Why? Because we are social beings, and despite our age, we need human connection. Social isolation is real. Our elderly experience it, more than ever. There is hope because we can do something about it. It begins by taking a few minutes out of our day to check in on our elderly loved ones, especially if they live away. Include those in your neighborhood as well.
Today, a special person came across my mind, so I picked up the phone. As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, make someone’s day. Don’t text, pick up the phone and exchange voices, exchange laughs out loud. Connect with an elderly loved one today! Connect with a neighbor today! Be safe! Be well! Connect!