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About Us

 

Winter 2005-2006

Canadian Corner with Linda Brodey
Friendship and Companionship In Retirement

In this article I’m going to focus on “Friendship and Companionship” in retirement with some emphasis on those who are living alone. I’ll also include tips for everyone on how to expand your circle of friends. For those who are living alone, it is sometimes perceived that you are lonely, vulnerable, or isolated. For most people, finding new friendships requires some planning and efforts.

At the turn of this past century, few people lived alone. Those who did, usually did so within the comfort of a familiar neighbourhood. Family and friends were close by. Older members of the family who were widowed or in poor health were likely to move in with a son, daughter or other relative.

In today’s society, many people — of all ages — live alone. With an economy that demands that people go where the jobs are, more and more people are not only living alone but far away from familiar faces and places. The old neighbourhood no longer looks the same. Sons or daughters may live on the other side of the country, perhaps even on the other side of the world.

A recent article in the National Post addresses a study that indicates loneliness makes depression a killer in the elderly. Identifying this could lead to new ways to treat the socially isolated. It is difficult for doctors to address loneliness because they may not have the time or the resources to suggest solutions.

Equipped with a positive attitude and some common-sense solutions for day-to-day challenges you can enjoy a satisfying and enriching experience. Experts agree that living alone successfully requires planning, adjustments and effort. For example, it takes an effort to make friends. Most of us are shy, hesitant about intruding, or afraid of being rebuffed. You have to regularly keep in contact with friends because if you want to have friends, you have to be a friend.

Here are some tips for expanding your circle of friends:

  1. If you are concerned about being able to start a conversation, just ask someone to tell you about their life. Everyone loves to talk about themselves!
  2. Involvement in the community, through volunteer work, or hobby/study programs will expand your horizons and increase your self-esteem. Being involved with a wide range of groups and organizations has, for many, the added bonus of introducing friends of many different ages and backgrounds into your lives.
  3. Try new experiences. If after trying something new, you don’t like it, don’t worry about it - just move on and try something else.
  4. Build new links with family and among the generations. Start to assemble a family tree and reach out to relatives to fill in the gaps.
  5. Organize some activities. Plan a meal during any holiday season and invite others who may be alone to join you for a festive meal at home or in a restaurant.
  6. Many community organizations especially need volunteers during holiday times and would welcome you warmly.
  7. Cultivate the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. You can do things for your children’s children, give them time, love and approval that will enhance their view of themselves. If you don’t have grandchildren - or none nearby - call a volunteer agency in your community. If you share your talents and experiences with the young, you’ll both benefit.
  8. Giving a hug, or a pat on the back, can be as satisfying as receiving one.

For further help and assistance, there are community information centres and volunteer information centres listed in the phone book, all across Canada. To meet others through travel and education, try connecting with Elderhostel Canada at www.elderhostel.org. In Ontario, to locate an Older Adult Centre, call the Older Adult Centres Association of Ontario or visit their web site at
www.oacao.org

You can also try the Canadian Seniors Organizations through the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration at:

www.gov.on.ca/mcrz/seniors/english/links.htm#canadian

Remember, if you want to have friends, you have to be a friend!