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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Aging and Alone August 8, 2015


Many retired couples live in Arizona in communities where the neighbors become friends and help each other.
Many families across the country live in neighborhoods where close bonds endure after the children have grown and left home.
Many folks belong to religious groups that meet regularly not only for prayer services but for socializing as well.
Some adults have lived alone all their lives and know how to care for themselves. Some never learn.

And often some of these bonds fail when a member of a couple develops Alzheimer's disease. Then, if the caregiving person is perseverant, (s)he joins a support group which replaces the other groups in whole or in part for conversation, and sometimes for socializing purposes as well. Or smaller groups within the support group form and the people become friends.

But what happens when the caregiving ends when the partner dies? The former neighbors and friends have also gotten older, their lives have moved on and the basis for friendship may no longer exist. Meetings or dinners out together become shallow images of the former close relationship.

The same may also be true of former support group members. The glue that held you together dries up when there is nothing further that binds you and the communication becomes more distant.

Sometimes it is difficult to return to group life after many years of isolation, moreso after the intense experience of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. It takes a lot of effort to make new friends, to join new groups, to invest in new ideas, hobbies, interests, and to become active once more in defending your ideals and values.

But what happens when you are alone, if you have an emergency? If you don't feel well in the middle of the night? If you are lonely or need help? Even if it was necessary to call for help for your loved one, can you do the same, can you care the same strong way for yourself? A new challenge.

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