Elegy to Loneliness: a story of loneliness among older adults.

During my short stay in Canada, I stayed with an old lady. She has divorced for years and has two daughters of middle age who live in different city. For an old lady, she’s very active and energetic. She always finds herself busy or having to do other things. But when the night comes or when her daughters don’t visit her on a weekend, I often found her sitting alone in quiet thought late at night.

Few years ago she had cancer. As she lives by herself, she has to fight the cancer alone, schedule her appointment with the doctor alone, and even if she has to be hospitalized, no families around to support her.

My experience has inspired me to find out more about loneliness among seniors / older adults in Canada. New research in Canada is showing that elderly population is growing increasingly lonely and isolated. As spouses and close friends pass away, and children grow and have their own lives to manage, many older Canadians are finding themselves painfully lonely. According to Statistics Canada, as many as 1.4 million elderly Canadians report feeling lonely, but knowledge and data on the effects of loneliness and social isolation on Canada’s senior population is limited.

Loneliness and lonely seniors are a serious public health issue and it is a significant predictor of depression and poor health among elderly Canadians. The most emerging issue seniors are facing is finding means to become, or remain, socially included and connected to their community. Loneliness itself doesn’t directly cause health problems, but depression, desperation, feeling unappreciated and unwanted can cause seniors to neglect their health or resort to unhealthy behaviour.

We do not own each other.

We do not control each other.

We do not own each other’s misery.

But we merely support each other, celebrate love and togetherness.

The journey may be finished, but the memories remain. 

How often do you feel alone?

How long have you been widowed or divorced?

How often do you feel that you are no longer close to anyone? 

I met this old man when I was strolling alone in the beach with my camera. He looked at me with a tiny smile. His voice was soft and a bit strained, "I'm sorry, I get lost a lot these days"

So we had a conversation for a few minutes, then I stumbled upon his question:

"How am I supposed to carry on when the love of my life is no longer with me? Don't you get that?"

That moment, I know he was still recovering. 

Isn't life a strange journey? You can be lonely anywhere, but sometimes you see the beauty in loneliness. . .

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