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The Loneliness Epidemic




"Silver Sirens stand united against

the pervasive impact of loneliness, championing a society where all women feel seen, heard, and embraced"

 

Silver Sirens Guiding Principle

  

 

It feels appropriate that we are putting a spotlight on the issue of loneliness in this 'month of love'.

 

I recall that crippling feeling of loneliness that occurs after a breakup. As I walk around my neighbourhood at the weekend, I appear to be surrounded by happy couples. The sense of isolation and feeling like an outsider can be overwhelming.

 

It's important to remember that loneliness is a feeling and like all feelings, it’s trying to tell us something.

 

Experiencing loneliness lets us know that we aren’t feeling meaningfully connected with other people.

 

At its core, the feeling of loneliness is trying to motivate us to do something different. This doesn’t necessarily mean having lots of people to hang out with, it’s about having meaningful connections and feeling understood and supported.

 

It's important to note that loneliness is not always the same as being alone. Some people can have little contact with others and not feel lonely at all, and some people who have many friends can feel lonely. There is not one profile for people at risk of loneliness.

 

Those at Risk can range from the following:

 

  • Major life changes - Losing a partner to death or divorce

  • Empty Nesters

  • Never married/single/childless women.

  • Those with physical and mental disability

  • Chronic illness Relocation

  • Those who live alone.

 

ISOLATION VERSUS LONELINESS

It's important to distinguish between the two. Loneliness and social isolation are different but related. Loneliness is the distressing feeling of being alone or separated. Social isolation is the lack of social contacts and having few people to interact with regularly. You can live alone and not feel lonely or socially isolated, and you can feel lonely while being with other people.

 

Older adults are at higher risk for social isolation and loneliness due to changes in health and social connections that can come with growing older, hearing, vision, and memory loss, disability, trouble getting around, and/or the loss of family and friends.

 

In short, any one of us can experience loneliness at any stage if our circumstances change.

  

I was touched by the openness of the women who shared their lived experiences of loneliness in our Addressing Loneliness conversation on Saturday afternoon. I appreciated the courage it takes to admit on a public forum that we feel lonely. There is so much shame and stigma attached to it, especially in our carefully edited lives on social media.

 

Below is a short list of my takeaways from the event.

1. Rowena - "I didn't know what I was looking for until I found it in me". Highlights the importance of getting to know and like yourself first.

Into-me-see - (intimacy) Pia Melody

 

2. Pre-planning for important days.

Loneliness can hit hard over holidays like (Christmas, birthdays, etc.- You will be aware that suicide rates historically rise at these times.) Having a plan to keep occupied if you are alone on these days can ease the feeling.

 

3. Getting comfortable being alone. Finding hobbies or interests that you can do alone - keeping busy. Sharon said, 'Looking at loneliness as a space to be creative.'

 

4. Jo - Putting yourself out there - doing the work to make and keep friendships you can't always expect everyone else to make all the effort.

 

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