Loneliness kills. I checked out a ton of research on this - completed from 1908 to 2014, where the experts found that people that were lonely or socially isolated had a 30% higher chance of dying than those who had regular social contact. Some surveys showed how it can kill more people than obesity and we can all see the obese all around us - they are easy to spot ( especially when they block out the sun - ha ha ) but a lonely person is hard to spot, hard to see and hard to tell who is suffering and who is desperate for just a friendly gesture from a kind and thoughtful friend or even stranger.
My Mother when she was in her 70's use to shop every day and when I asked why she did not do one big shop once a week, replied that if she did she would not get to see anyone at all - all day - and spoke to no one at all - all day and that at least by shopping she saw and spoke to people.
I often wondered why some elderly people took so long in the queue at Tesco - chattering away to the woman on the till.
My Mother use to like it when there was a period I was not working and would pop over in the evenings and just sit and watch telly with her. We didn't really chat much although she would interupt the programme with trying to make conversation and I never really understood that she just wanted to talk with someone. She had had an amazing life in show business as a singer and as a fashion model and I wish I had taken more time to talk to her about it all. When I did - by then, dementia had kicked in and it was a bit too late but even when in a Care Home alone in her room, disabled and unable to even get out of bed and where even to take a pee meant asking for help, she loved me visiting even though half the time she didn't even know I was there.
As people get old, the need for young energy around them helps keep them young.
Many gay men will be / are lonely as they grow old, as friends die off and without a partner / wife and-or kids/grandkids, ( which a large percentage of gay men do actually have - at least from within the older generation who had to hide their sexuality so got married - had kids and lived the 'straight' lifestyle even though secretly gay ) it can be isolating. On the LGBTQ scene old gay men are often pushed aside and ignored, and unless richer than God - this will be most of us as the young generation just see us as old fools. This reminds me of the young man talking to the old man asking how the old guys generation managed to live without the mobile phone, lap top, internet, skype, google, Facebook and all the social media we have today - and the old boy responded ' My generation was inventing it, dear.'
Young people generally haven't a clue how important it is to be with the elderly as there is much they can learn.
Various researches into loneliness all show that life expectancy is reduced for those who miss the contact of others and it can be dramatically so.
This recent lockdown - where billions globally were shut away at home with little contact with anyone, must have caused so much mental health deterioration within peoples psyche that - sadly - the pandemic may have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths so far, but the strain on many peoples emotion life will have done a great deal more harm than many realise.
No one has ever experienced this kind of emotional shut down - this kind of isolation - before, and while we have skype / zoom and so many more ways of communication non face to face - which is a great help, the mere fact that when we physically meet, we FEEL other peoples energies, their aura, their life force, their physical company - and nothing can replace that . Our own enery field feeds of that of others. Our aura blends with theirs in close contact ( up to 10 feet ) and many married couples who hate each other - stay together, knowing the alternative is loneleiness and even if unhappy, would not leave.
Lettice and Lovage is a comical and satirical play by Peter Shaffer. It is centered around a flamboyant tour guide who loves to embellish the history behind an English country house and who butts heads with a fact-conscious official at the house, and both parts ar eplayed by elderly women - in the play I saw it was Maggie Smith and - sorry no idea - but in the story these two elderly women hate each other until when the stately home shuts down and the two old volunteer ladies are left with nothing and no one, they end up actually sharing a flat together as they are all each other had, and while they banged heads in the past, the realisation that that was what kept them alive, kept them going, was not lost when the penny dropped and loneliness was to be the outcome for them both. Coming together at the end gave both their lives meaning.
Hamilton Hall is here for you. If you are lonely, come and join us here, not just as a Community Living space where you will have company and friendship, but even for a few days - or over the Wednesday Coffee Mornings, and everyone is welcome.
We have always tried to be here for the elderly and it has not always been easy as many are bitter and resentful and cannot let go of their inner hurt and loneleiness and it reminds me of the BT advert with Moreen Lipman when she is on the phone to her son and she keeps telling him off for not phoning more often - unaware that by ragging at him - he is less likely to want to phone more often as he always gets ragged at and this is counter productive. It is sad - it is true - and it drives people away and then - loneliness.
Phone your Mother or Father or elderly relative or old friend while they are still alive as believe me, I WOULD LOVE to be able to chatter with my Mother ( long dead ) - LOVE to be able to feel her energy and smell her perfume and with tears in my ees just writing this, wish I had taken more time and made more of an effort, and I am sure she was desperately lonely - but then, I didn't realise - I didn't know.
John. Read you bit about loneliness. I cried. It moved me. Talking about your Mother brought it all back to me. Very moving and thankyou for that. Sad how we end up alone. Born alone, and we die alone. Michael. Dear Mr. Bellamy. At 74 I had been alone for more than 25 years since my partner died. No family. Friends mostly died off over the years, many in the 80's and 90's from HIV and where I found it hard to make new friends for fear of loosing them as well. Took me a long time to get over some of the losses in my life and I thought it would be easier just to be alone, independant, not in need of anyone, but I was wrong. Visited your lovely place back in 2008 and met another guest who came from near where I live and we remained friends. We meet up weekly for drinks and a meal out, we go to the cinema, and through each other we have found friendships outside of the two of us and loneliness has been banished. I have always remembered that weekend at Hamilton Hall as a life changing moment for me, so thankyou to you and all you offer us older men and from the bottom of my heart, know it could have been very different.
( I was so moved to read these e mails and Martin's really touched me. JB )