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Overcoming senior loneliness: We are in this together

It is fair to say we live in an interesting time in history, where crisis has become the norm. Where information is plentiful, technology is ever consuming, and frankly, we all live with a little bit of chaos. It doesn’t help that we also have to endure a pandemic that won’t seem to let us go. Yet, life continues to move forward and time, unfortunately, continues to move at a rapid pace.

However, within community, there has never been a better time to unite and realize we are in this together. Life does throw its obstacles. It always has. This will never change. The challenges we face are different than we may have faced in the past but it is our commonalities that give us hope and tell us we can endure. 

These commonalities, which we sometimes forget, are the foundation of what really makes life good: To live with purpose, to help those we love and those in need, to embrace kindness, to enjoy family and friends, to nurture community, and to continue to learn and grow from the trials and tribulations we endure. When we focus on what we have in common, instead of our differences, we realize we are all in this life together … and we are not alone.

It is easy to look at differences: Politics, religion, professions and careers, education level, ethnicity, age, and so much more. But it is more important, in a deeper sense, to look at what we share and to understand that together we are much stronger and can handle just about anything life throws at us. Let’s learn from each other.

So why do we have so many lonely people? Our children. Our seniors. Isolation is affecting us emotionally and physically and has caused a mental health and wellness epidemic within the U.S. Many people have depression. Chronic illness associated with isolation and loneliness has become a predominate factor for the wellness of society. Suicide among our children and seniors is too high. It’s not so easy to look at but an issue we can’t turn away from. 

Let’s address loneliness in our community because it exists. Let’s come together to focus on our commonalities and to focus on basic needs of those within our community. Here is an idea! Let’s acknowledge each other and our need to be recognized. Embraced. In simple terms: Kindness.

One community that I know quite well is the Blaine Senior Center, a membership community of about 600 Blaine residents. A diverse population of many ethnic groups, ages 50-100 and higher, with affluence from a little to a lot. They are a group of seniors that consist of three separate generations with talents across the board. Within this population we play, learn, teach, listen and embrace community. And there is one mandatory mantra: Kindness. 

Does this mean everyone is the same? Of course not. Yet we focus on the commonalities. To give and receive with gratitude. To acknowledge each other, help within our community, and to enjoy the simple things in life: Each other. Some give more. Some need more. But this is life. Everyone is a part of the community. We don’t talk about politics or religion. We don’t talk down to each other. We understand in the game of life our similarities are what bring us together. We are all getting older no matter who you are.

It’s amazing what can grow within ourselves and others when we embrace respect for life and acknowledge others with kindness, help, laughter and support.

So here is the challenge: Be kind to our children, seniors and all those in between. Kind words matter. Listen to understand. Check in with your neighbor. Nurture those around you and watch what happens. Say hi when it isn’t the norm. Say thank you when it is needed. Give when you can. Ask for help if it is needed. Let’s tackle the loneliness epidemic by letting others know they are not alone.

The Blaine Senior Center is a community resource that is here for you. As a senior, you are not alone. Come and join our community. As a Blaine resident, know we believe intergenerational connection is an important ingredient for this community, and we hope our paths cross soon with one of our community events or amazing resources available here for you. And please, stop by and say hi when you are in the neighborhood.  

Pete Nelson is the executive director of Blaine Senior Center and oversees operations at the Blaine Community Center.


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