Everyone needs some time alone, but being alone against your will can be very painful. You risk loosing your sense of purpose and self-worth, and becoming depressed. As family members and friends die, and children become more involved in their own lives, it is important for you to find ways to cope with loneliness. You may want to consider some of the following suggestions:
- Stay active, and look for new social contacts. Most communities have a number of programs which can help replace the support that used to be provided by family and life-long friends. These programs provide older people with the chance to try new activities and make new friends.
- Try to make friends with people of different ages. You may be pleasantly surprised to find how much you have in common with someone 15 or 20 years younger than you.
- Spend time with grandchildren and great-nieces and nephews. Volunteer to help part-time in a local school or day-care centre. Very young children can brighten up your life with their enthusiasm and energy.
- Learn to recognize and deal with the signs of depression. Loss of appetite and weight, inability to sleep, loss of energy and motivation, and thoughts of suicide are all signs of depression. Your family doctor can refer you to a mental health professional for treatment.