I also remained in contact with another widow from a former client, Ann. Finally, I was able to bring both of them out to dinner to meet each other and enjoy some company. They were both sad and lonely as they both had lost their husbands and felt secluded from the world. Surprisingly they discovered they had worked together many years ago when they first came to this country.
Unfortunately I find that this situation is all too common. Many elderly surviving spouses don’t drive anymore. I’m always trying to get these folks together to meet locally with others their own age, just for social interaction and conversation. I like to be the “connector” as many of them don’t know anyone their own age anymore.
It is challenging to get these folks together on a regular basis as many don’t drive, or they can’t hear well when you call and sometimes they are reluctant to reach out because depression has set in. Many don’t have anyone to talk to and they don’t know anyone anymore with similar interest. Even if a person lived down the street from them it would be too far to walk.
Finally, when I said, “Enough is Enough!” I brought these two seniors together on the spur of the moment. The afternoon that unfolded was both beautiful and yet so sad.
Both ladies chatted, non stop about the olden days back when they waitressed together. They talked about the old country and their deceased spouses, former irish men too. I might as well have been a fly on the wall as I was not really involved in the conversation much, but I enjoyed listening intently. It was heartwarming to see them both connect, laugh and cry… and laugh again.
It saddened me to learn that Yvonne never gets out of the house and is crippled with anxiety because she lives alone and frightened. She is unable to walk far and does not have the ability to drive because her family has taken the keys to the car away. They believe she is too old to be driving, although cognitively she is 100%. She told me the days are like years and that she seldom has any visitors. She even asked if I knew anyone that would like to sleep over on a continual basis so that she would have another human being to speak to. My heart sank in honest despair when I realized she was dying day by day of loneliness.
Ann, on the other hand is house bound as well but her family visits her every second day. The call her daily and the visits are a welcome reprieve from solitude.
It came to my attention this week that elderly people die a little every day whilst living.
A former client’s wife, Yvonne, and I had not connected for over two years. Since Yvonne’s husband died three years ago I had reached out to her multiple times but she always had an excuse not to meet with me. She said she was always so busy. After a couple of tries and two occasions where she backed out of our plans on the pre-arranged date, I simply gave up.
Neither senior seemed aware of the services our community offers through the township. How sad is it that after paying into taxes for a multitude of years seniors are left unaware of services which could change their life.
I think as fellow citizens we need to do a better job as a community to look out for our aging population. We are all going to be old someday, hopefully. We need a massive outreach in our neighborhood to make sure our seniors are aware of all the services available to them so they are not stuck inside, alone and afraid. If you know a senior that lives around you, reach out to them. Here are a few resources to get you started:
Tinley Park S.A.L.T. Program: The purpose of the Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (S.A.L.T.) organization is to further the goals and objectives of the TRIAD, a joint venture between the Cook County Sheriff's Office, the Tinley Park Police Department and the Village of Tinley Park to reduce the criminal victimization of senior citizens. Tinley Park residents age 55 and older are invited to participate.
Tinley Park Park District Senior Program: The park district offers educational and fun classes specifically for seniors. They even have a “Indy Senior Drop” where seniors can gather with others just to talk, have coffee and just chat.
Orland Township: The Orland Township’s Senior Services department provides programs that promote independence and wellness to help seniors of the community remain active and healthy.
Village of Orland: The Clerk's Office offers seniors a variety of resources and services including:
Being a King of your own castle is great, however to be in the castle alone is like being a prisoner in the dungeon, looking out the window and watching the world go by daily. No one knows your there but yet you are within arms reach of humanity.
Let’s take the time to visit our elderly and bring back the real meaning of “community” and “neighborhood”.
**Names in the story were changed to protect their privacy.
I am a dedicated mother of four and business woman. All of my work building Aishling Companion Home Care is dedicated to my mother and father for the wonderful childhood and life of beautiful traditions and memories created for my sisters and me. Thanks for reading!