Working with older adults and their families, I’ve found that aging can be a difficult transition for many people. It’s not only the physical changes but the emotional aspects of aging that can be disorienting. For example, I have had clients tell me that they couldn’t wait for retirement but once they no longer held a job, they also felt strangely dissatisfied with their lives.
“I was a nurse for more than 30 years,” my client, Lois, told me. “I was so happy the day I retired. No more long shifts, no more feeling burned out and miserable because I had no time to myself. But then I had TOO much time and didn’t know how to handle it. I felt lonely and useless because I wasn’t helping people anymore. The more depressed I felt, the less time I spent with my friends and people I love. That made me feel even more lonely and insecure!”
Not long after her retirement, Lois became a part-time hospice volunteer and told me she was feeling much better. She didn’t have the same pressures as she did when working full time and she felt that her life had a purpose.
“I’m good at helping my patients and their families in their time of greatest need,” Lois said. “It makes me feel good about myself. Besides the volunteer work, I’m also taking a music appreciation class at the community college. I’ve always wanted to learn more about classical music and it’s really fun. Next semester I might try an oil-painting class with a new friend I met at the college. He’s retired too and we have fun together.”
As we age, we change and grow into new people with new expectations, wants, and needs. If you’re feeling lonely or disconnected from others during the aging journey, perhaps it’s time to take a deep breath and check in with yourself. What do you do well? What makes you happy? What is the one thing you’ve always wanted to do and how can you make it happen for yourself this year? As Betty Friedan said, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
If you or someone in your family are facing aging challenges, please give us a call at (203) 258-2640 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to assist!