The New York Times provides the documentation about what we aging already sense: Many of us who are becoming older are socially isolated. And it's killing us.
From the get-go as toddlers, human beings need social connection.
Yet, the fears, busy schedules and digital technology of contemporary life have been preventing that. That gets worse as we age. Friends and family die. Retirement cuts off the social networks at work. More affordable living yanks us from our long-term roots to being the "new kid" on the block.
As the Times article points out, experiments are being tried to bring us together.
One program links generations through pooling volunteer services. The member from Z Generation might mow the lawn of someone 50 years old. That earns the mower, for example, two or three hours of services. When Gen Zer needs help with the personal essay for college that's the time to cash in the hours. A retired college president pitches in.
In the senior-citizen complex Bella Vista, New Haven, Connecticut, there are community rooms, clubs, volunteer activities, and transportation to recreational centers.
For me what has been the social ice-breaker is being a pet parent. Walking a four-footer son or daughter brings me in contact with all generations. Some of those casual encounters will be the seeds for friendship.
Another effective tactic is learning to listen. Everyone has a story. If they sense you are interested in hearing it, they will make it their business to include you in their lives.
A third is to continue to work for income. Even though my communications boutique operates on a telecommuting basis, there is still plenty of socializing.
After I recognized I needed more people in my life and did something about it, I now have to struggle to get enough solitude in.
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