23 October 2016

Living alone

There are great debates going on at the moment about caring for the elderly who live alone and the cost of same. I am reminded that in days gone by, especially in winter and at Christmas, the general public was asked to ‘pop in and see if your neighbour needs anything’. Those pleas would come at Christmas when the general public was asked to remember that not everyone had family to provide the Christmas spirit. Joe and I did our bit for the neighbours but that was a long time ago. Once we moved we were among people a lot younger than ourselves so the necessity to keep an eye on the elderly was removed.

Now that I have reached old age I have begun to wish those media reminders would start again. Why? Because from one week’s end to another I seldom see people unless I go out to the shops which, fortunately, I can still do. But for how long?  It’s kind of scary to think things might get worse. Don't misunderstand me, I like my own company, I don't sit and brood, I get on with things, I write, I make plans, go out to lunch with a friend, and there's my monthly involvement with the Women's Institute and Townswomen's Guild.

Recently I ventured to visit my immediate neighbours and was greeted with ‘Hello, Stranger’. Gone are the days, apparently, when people actually cared. 

Okay, I have been told to call in at any time but often ‘any time’ appears to be inconvenient.  I have been greeted with ‘Oh, dear, I’ve just got back from shopping’ or ‘hubby is having a lie down’ or ‘I have an appointment in half an hour’. So the upshot of this is that I don’t go. I am sure they don’t realise the effect their remarks have on me. I am fairly independent and still have outside interests, nevertheless it hurts at those times when I haven’t had a soul to speak except the girl in the shop.

I am not complaining – or am I? However, I do worry about the future and what will happen to me then? Fortunately I have an alarm button I can press in dire emergencies. If that should happen the folk at the other end of the phone can contact – yes, my next door neighbour – in an emergency. I just hope she isn’t out shopping or having a lie down! Looking on the bright side, though, if there is no response police or ambulance services will rush out. That’s some consolation, I can tell you.

Toend this tale of apparent misery (no, not really) I want to explain that the elderly are getting older and many of them live alone. Please do have a look round and see if there is anyone you could say ‘Hi’ to or pay them a visit – especially in winter and at Christmas. A kind word here and there actually makes life worth living for some elderly folk. Remember, it might be you one day!


  1. Good message, and old people make good company.

  2. Valerie, I love your final paragraph because what you said is so true! Time moves fast, so many people never realize that one day it might be them who needs a pop in and see if they need anything, or even just a kind word to let them know that others care.

    When I was a kid, I always enjoyed (and preferred) hanging out and talking with elderly folks because I found them so much more interesting. And I've always had a soft spot in my heart for our elderly because I think people get more valuable as they get older, very much like the Japanese culture believes. To them, they hold their elderly community in high regard.

    I'm so glad to hear that you are still active and have outside interests, keeping you socially involved. Like you, I am fairly independent and don't mind spending time alone at all, however, I do know the importance and value of socializing and staying involved with people.

    Hope you're having a lovely Sunday, my friend!

    ((((((((((((((( YOU )))))))))))))))


    P.S Wonderful post!

  3. I worry about this somewhat, One of the reasons we walk on the Mall, is to stay fit and reach out to friends a little more often.

  4. I rarely talk with my neighbors. It seems all I do is work and sleep. I remember checking on my older neighbors when I was growing up. My church checks on the older members that can not make it to the church any more. Around Christmas time we collect cards which the church delivers to them.

  5. Ron, I was always impressed on visits abroad at the way families stuck together, in some countries even buying property with several floors which housed different family sections. I read of so many here that are totally alone, with families far away. Sad!

    I too remember visiting elderly neighbours. They were always there for us kids and shared many family stories as well as reprimanding them if necessary. They wouldn't dare do that now.

  6. Katie, you are sensible. Keep up the walking for as long as you can.

  7. Dan, that's nice. Keep it up.

  8. Hello Valerie,

    Very profound thoughts. Times have changed. Nuclear families have come to stay. As a result we don't get the emotional or financial support from our children. We have to fend for ourselves. We have to save and we have to live as courageously as possible in our old age. In the process we become very resourceful and capable of doing many things on our own. In fact we discover our selves in our old age.

    When we were born, we had our parents waiting to love us and take care of us. But unfortunately we cant expect the same from our children. Not even a quid pro quo. They are busy with their lives. The best that we expect them to do is to put us in an old age home.

    But God will take care of us. We will go when the time comes. We don't have to fear the end. The end will come and we will face it. It is not as fearful as it seems. But our imagination keeps us jittery. So as your said the alternative is to keep ourselves busy at all time doing something or the other. Idle mind is devils workshop.

    Very thought provoking post.

    Best wishes.

  9. Joseph, fearing the end is something I don't do! To my mind it is a time of peace and, yes, even thankfulness.

  10. When we moved into our neighborhood almost 20 years ago, we were the youngish ones. Now that some have gone before us, we are some of the older ones. We keep an eye on the eldest across the street but other than have only rare conversations with the rest. I sure don't see any of them checking on us the future. We have an awesome daughter and that's the only thing that gives me hope for my much older years.

    My Mom (85) lives alone and has never driven. Having to be on oxygen, she doesn't leave the house except to go to appointments. She can't even sit outside on a nice day due to COPD. If it weren't for me and my brothers, she would have hardly any contact with the outside world.

    If we lived closer, I would visit you :)

  11. Hi kden. Thank you, perhaps I should move nearer to you. Maybe the youngsters will realise one day that they need to think about what the future holds for them because they will be in the same boat.

  12. There are younger people than us in our neighborhood and apart from a hello here and there, people are busy with jobs and their own families. I have an older friend who lost her husband a year ago. She lives about 50 miles away but once or twice a month she stays for a long weekend with a couple of other friends and we all enjoy each other's company very much. None of us live that close to each other and would probably get together more if it wasn't for the distance. Wish you lived closer Valerie:)

  13. I belong to a new(ish) community project in my neck of the woods. We have a "friending" project that targets the elderly specifically. They are invited to join others for lunch or tea. You would never imagine that in my highly populated neighbourhood with a few high rises around there were so many people feeling lonely.

    Great post. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  14. Indeed. Or as we say here "getting old is not for sissies."....:)

  15. An important message and wise words, Val. I hope you also know that you can lean on your blogging buddies as well. We will not be able to pop over if you needed something but we are here for you. Take care.

  16. Hi Valerie
    Read that post and made me think about my neighbour. She's great and made me feel welcome when I moved next door in 2011. Unfortunately her husband died two years ago and last year after a second fall she ended up in a care home and now feels she can never go home. I visit her about once a week. She's great company and interesting to chat with. What is so sad is that so many of her so-called friends and neighbors of many years do not contact or visit her at all and that makes her feel very alone. I think as a society we need to do more to reconnect to people and ensure that no one feels isolated. How we get there is another question.

  17. Hi John, and welcome. How nice that you continue to visit your old neighbour. It is amazing how many people abandon relatives and friends at a time when they are needed the most. Unfortunately it will be a long time before your final question is answered now that people are living longer. I wonder why that is ... referring to the living longer.

  18. Hello, Valerie. Are there any hobby clubs in your area (book clubs, knitting clubs, art clubs, etc.)? Those can often be a place to find some good company :)

  19. OE, lots to investigate and I will when my presidency finishes at WI. I know of a book club I could join but fancy something different. I shall continue to look round and will report back.

  20. I hope you do find a club or something to join.

    Hubby and I usually gravitate toward older people; it seems like a lot of our friends are closer to our grandparents' age than ours. They're just more interesting than a lot of people our age.

    Thanks for this post. It's nice to hear it from your perspective. Our next door neighbor is in her 80s. It's fun to visit her, and I love her stories about what the neighborhood was like 40 years ago. I worry about irritating her, but maybe I don't need to worry about that.

  21. Hi Danielle. Thank you for visiting my blog. I'm pleased to hear that you visit your neighbour, I am pretty sure she appreciates it. You really don't need to worry about irritating her. I had a thought the other day, perhaps I should start a 'training club for neighbours' ... smiles.


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