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Wed, June 19

Seniors can benefit from connections with others

With the holidays behind us, our daily routines have more or less returned to normal. Unfortunately, for many seniors "normal" consists of sitting at home alone, with no interaction with others. This is often the case for seniors who have lost a spouse, and can lead to intensified feelings of sadness and isolation.

Fortunately, opportunities abound for making connections. There's no reason to spend your days with no human contact. It's easy to find activities to brighten one's day and give a sense of purpose to one's life. You can start by checking with your local senior center, public library or this newspaper for a list of one-time or ongoing meetings and events. Whether you decide to attend a social gathering put on by a club or you offer to help a nonprofit organization in need of volunteers, you'll have a chance to meet new people and make new friends.

Think about causes that interest you and how you might like to make a difference. The next time you hear yourself saying someone should do something to fix a social condition you find troublesome, consider how you might get involved and be that someone. Volunteering one's time and talents provides mental stimulation, social interaction and a way for seniors to remain connected to the fabric of the community. Call a nonprofit organization you'd like to help. Donating as little as one hour a week can make a big difference to the organization, while increasing your personal satisfaction and sense of self worth. Whether it's improving the condition of people, pets or the environment, all one needs to do is pick up the phone and call an agency for whom you'd like to volunteer and ask what assistance is needed.

If you are unable or prefer not to leave your home, consider making connections by inviting a friend to visit you. Chances are you're aware of others who are also sitting at home alone who would love the opportunity to spend an hour or two in conversation over a cup of tea. Or perhaps rent a movie and invite a few people over.

If you don't like socializing in person, make an effort to call someone each day. Call a neighbor, friend or relative whom you haven't spoken to for awhile. You don't need any particular reason for the call, other than to let them know you're thinking about them and wondering how they're doing.

If you don't feel comfortable reaching out or socializing with others, but would like someone to check in with you on a regular basis, there are nonprofit organizations such as People Who Care that use volunteers to make friendly visits and phone calls. You can contact them at 445-2480. Who knows, maybe in time you'll offer to be the one making the calls to others. There's no reason to be alone, unless you choose to be. Reach out and make the connection!

Debbie Stewart is the co-founder of the Senior Connection and publishes a newsletter called the "Caregiver Connection," a resource for seniors, caregivers and service providers. It includes information about support groups, meetings and services offered by local agencies, as well as articles on relevant topics. For a free subscription, contact or call 778-3747 for more information. To view the current edition, visit


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