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Ask Amy: Elder couple is isolated post-pandemic

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My husband and I, along with a lot of other people our age, have not been able to recover from the pandemic. We are both active 75-year-olds and have been married 55 years.

It seems like everyone’s forgotten that most people over 65 are retired and have no young children. They don’t have jobs and colleagues to return to. They don’t have young children to keep them busy through school and extracurriculars.

So many of the activities we used to participate in have been shut down. Volunteer opportunities and senior lunches have been discontinued. Cruise ships, which are an easier way for older people to travel, now depart from port cities that are difficult to fly to. Our church has done away with its coffee hour that was the main way to keep up with members. We can’t even go to the movie theater because they blast the sound so loudly that it hurts.

With no outlets for socialization, my husband and I spend 24 hours a day together. Although we have hobbies that have kept us busy, the lack of outside human contact makes us unhappy. With no control over all we’ve lost, we are bad-tempered and argue. We see no future.

While we know everyone—especially our children—need special attention recovering from the isolation of COVID-19, it seems as if America has forgotten its seniors entirely. Can you suggest any groups inviting older people back “to life” post-pandemic?

— Still Isolated in Chicago

 

Dear Still Isolated: I appreciate your perspective about the continued isolation you’re experiencing as a result of the pandemic. As you know, isolation is bad for both your mental and physical health.

But you live in Chicago (lucky you), which is an extremely social city with short but glorious summers. Now is the perfect time to climb out of your isolation and look around.

The experiences you had grown accustomed to have changed. You are going to have to change, too, and make a very real effort to create new experiences and meet new people.

My first suggestion is that you should see if you and your husband can revive your church’s coffee hour. Are volunteers needed to coordinate? If so, you should step up and see how you can be helpful.

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