The loneliness epidemic - Feeling invisible.
'Dear John. I read your piece last week about the guy who said he had little to live for and I don't really know what to say except l have felt on the outside of society since l became old. I moved from London when I was only in my late 50's and noticed it straight away when I moved to Newquay in Cornwall I find people hardly give me the time of day. I do not expect lots of attention but being totally ignored is not a good sign either. I retired down here and thought it would be great but I feel invisible. I can understand it in London but in a small town like this, where you see the same faces yet they ignore you, was a surprise. I feel isolated and invisible in a town full of people.
JC. Dear JC: Effort. It takes effort. The only person who can do that - is you. You have to put some effort into finding, making and then keeping - friends.
I absolutely know what you mean JC. When I came to live in Bournemouth from London 22 years ago I was 45 and also straight away felt invisible here as it is a seaside tourist town and a family town and single men are either mostly students ( young people ) family men or old farts who have retired here and it seems, I fall into that bracket - just not retired.
Now JC: You only get out of life what you put in.
When you do meet people, if you are a bore, or act old and senile, or do the ' poor me' act - then you will be left alone.
There's nothing worse than someone moaning how lonely they are - as this puts people off.
If you are the life and soul of the party, regardless of age, you will not be alone. If you smile and laugh and show your very best then you will be remembered and invited next time. It all depends on how you come across to others.
So many elderly people seem to have it all wrong. They wait at home for life to come to them, for visitors to discover them, and this is not how it works. No use sitting at home all lovely when no one knows you are there. At least we have the internet and there are many dating sites and chat groups aimed at the older gay man as THAT is how people keep in touch these days and is vital to many. It is why bars, cubs, saunas and hotels on the gay scene are closing down, as everyone meets 'online' and not through the old way of going out, meeting, chatting, making friends and going forward from there. Now JC: I am 67 next week. I am also alone at home a lot. I have 2 live in guests who I rarely see and a staff member
who - also, - because of workload and respect for his privacy, I also see minimally even though he lives in the building. I am a twin and not use to being alone but have got use to it because of various long closed periods due to Covid Lockdowns. I do know the feeling of my brain turning to mush as there is so little input and so little meaningful conversation and I saw where I was headed and felt as I turned inwards and realised I had not been out in a very long time and so, elsewhere on this Blog / Newsletter this week, share with me what I am doing to counter repetition day after day and brain rot.
Back to you:- How about doing some voluntary work, feeding the homeless ;- Or: Check at your local gym and see if they do an OAP Day where classes are aimed at the elderly and this can be very good way of meeting people and staying fit. It may not be gay, but then, you might discover a local gay group as they do exist and take it from there. Look in your local library of look up Age Concern and any other group working locally as you will find you are not alone. You may be shocked how many others feel the same and do nothing about making changes as that means being pro active and for some reason, may older people become a lot less proactive and tend to expect others to do the running - which makes absolutely no sense.
My Mother ( died 10 years ago aged 89 ) lived in a warden assisted building with around 80 flats for the elderly and she was so lonely - but be damned if she would go down to the communal lounge and meet people and make friends. She was too snooty, too up herself and disliked women anyway as throughout her life she was a fashion model and singer - a very beautiful woman, admired by men and envied by women and she always saw women as a threat so, in her twilight years, as we know, these warden assisted places are predominately women as they live longer.
Whatever your situation may be JC - only you can change that and stop being invisible even if only to a few. I see you have been on our data base since 2014 and have not been here and this is the only e mail from you I can find, which beggars the question, we are here and we are friendly and we offer so much to older gay men and yet you have ignored us for 8 long years while growing lonelier and lonelier and we were here all along.
I cannot live your life for you CJ and you do have to make an effort. If the effort you have given in 8 years of not contacting us before today is anything to go by, you have a lot of changes and decisions to make and it is YOU who has to go out there and meet people and get involved and- maybe - stop feeling sorry for yourself as I have seen so often in the elderly as that is a big turn off.
Spend an afternoon on the internet - click here for example - HERE - as if I can find this, so can you JC, it just takes a little effort.
Let me know how you get on.
Firstly I must say I really appreciate your regular Blog. I don't necessarily agree with everything you write, that's not the point, I value the way you express thoughts and ideas.
On the subject of the loneliness of older gay men.
I am two months from becoming 75. I still have a fervent interest in the journey of Life with all its complexities. 15 years ago I was clubbing a lot, I have calmed down but I still go to particular clubs that interest me, interest or excite me. I love to talk with people - not in a predatory way but interested in their story. Every now and then a Friend comes out of this. Probably because of my active mind, younger guys seem to be comfortable talking - & dancing - with me. Most weeks I do a volunteer shift at a food distribution charity. I started mostly to have a little structure in my life and to be a bit sociable but I've discovered that I'm really benefiting from the exercise. Shifting 1000kg of parsnips into 10kg trays is a lot of exercise! I also help at a local Men's Mental Health group one afternoon a week.
Having subscribed to no end of things so I have possible events coming out of my ears (Meetup is also good for that). So, beside club nights 1-2 a month, performance events, social events and making time and space for friends & acquaintances (the space for them to Be) I have quite a hectic time.