THE FORGOTTEN ONES: THE LONESOME POPULATION OF ELDERLY IN AMERICA

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“Everybody has to get old; who will care for you?”

As we age in society most of us contemplate what will come of ourselves as we get older. Will we be able enough to care for ourselves or will we need assisted living? Will there be someone there to check in on us like a friend or family or will we be placed in a care facility? For most people, no one wants to be placed in an elderly facility. We call them, “Old Folks Homes,” and they carry so many negative connotations. From the neglect of no one coming to see them or the physical and mental abuse some endure while they are there at the hands of staff members. But what I am writing about is not just living in an assistant living facility, but the loneliness elderly people face.

Walking the streets of New York City, you see elderly men and women who have no friends and no family. And for the ones who do have loved ones, the close relatives don’t even bother coming around to visit them. So the elderly sit around bored and alone. Some who are physically unable to leave confines of their homes, so they just wither away. I read in the newspaper or even watch the news about how elderly men and women in the housing projects never leave their apartments; especially during the winter months. It’s no wonder a lot of them face mental issues or their memories diminish. There is nothing around them to keep their minds sharp. I had a grandmother (my mother’s mother) who passed away, but it was a physical ailment. Outside of that, she was an able bodied woman. As for other people her age, a lot weren’t.

But why, why do we leave the older generations not cared for, even though we ourselves have to get old one day? Do we do it because we don’t care? Or is it because we have to make a living for ourselves in today’s society? A lot of it has to do with having to live in society yourself. If you are the everyday working man or woman, you have to be out earning in society. So trying to care for a parent or other relative is tough. And with a lack of jobs, people are forced to work more now than ever. So the idea of working multiple jobs is a reality. Now you’re going to have even more people aging and left alone. I don’t think people are careless, it’s just you have to work so hard at yourself it’s tough to care for another close to you.

In the end, the aging population of men and women in America is growing because due to modern medicine people are living longer. Does that mean even more lonely and shutout citizens? The upside to all this is that we have more able bodied elderly. As a matter of fact, my mother and her sisters are considered elderly, but by their ability to be mobile they are far from it. You wouldn’t know that these are women who have officially become the elderly. Because 60 years old in the past was old, it’s still young in the world today. So maybe there is some good that could come from the new aging population.

LONESOME: YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIVE ALONE

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“You don’t have to live alone nor die alone.”

Have you ever felt alone in the world? Have you ever felt like you don’t a friend or even sometimes family you can depend on? Do you have to live like this? Will there ever come a time where you’ll be vindicated from such lonesomeness? Well, in my opinion you don’t have to be alone. You don’t have to feel shut out as if no one wants to be around you. Because trust and believe, there are people just like you who are just as shut out. There are plenty who have been in your position. Let’s discuss what all of this means.

I live in New York city; to be more specific the borough of Manhattan. This is a city of approximately 10 million inhabitants and nearly 70 million tourists in a year. Yet when you walk the streets, all you see are people walking alone. Now, don’t get me wrong, just because someone walks alone does not necessarily mean they are alone. What I’m saying is that you don’t see a lot of groups unless they are teens, tourists, and/or people on lunch break from work. But the city does have a lot of lonely people. What do I mean?

For example, the men and women who walk the streets talking to themselves. Now I myself do the same, but mainly it’s the brainstorming of ideas to write for my novel and screenplays. But you hear the people’s conversations and you can tell they don’t have anyone in their lives. What if they had someone in their lives to talk to; would they still be having lonely conversation? To be in a city of this size, it’s odd that you can live here and not have a single interaction with anyone. But if the human mind has nothing coming into it from another human being, we tend to have conversations with ourselves. What are ways we don’t have to feel alone?

We have family, but as time passes and people go off and start their own families, you see less of them. Even friends have their immediate work and family lives. So this requires you to throw yourself into the world. One of the things you can do is start to develop relationships with people you work with everyday. They have lives, but sometimes they want to get away. There is friendship here as well as neighbors. In your neighborhood, you start to develop conversations with people you see everyday. With the openness of the internet, you can take part in an open chat board or start your own blog. You bounce ideas off of one another; you’re not making contact, but you have someone to connect with.

Then again, there are the people who are homeless. These are the people who sleep in the street every night. I see this group of people as well in New York City. This is the main group who you see talking to themselves. It’s truly because they have no one to talk to at all. A harsh reality that no one wants to experience: being homeless and no one in your life. Then there are the people who have a home, have a job, but no friends nor family. They don’t have anyone, and most likely never will. Luckily for me I have family back home in the Midwest. I could either call or go back home to live. Even with that, they sill have full-time employment. Meaning you have to find something that will engage you in life.

And that’s the key, staying engaged. Just because you have people in your life (family and friends) don’t mean they have time for you. It’s a reality; I myself have gone a full month without calling my siblings. Then I go, wow, it’s been a month, let me call or send a text. It’s because I’m trying to engage myself in this ever changing world we reside within. So my mind is constantly moving, yet keeping them in my thoughts. But I still know they are one call away, a parent is one call away. Some people don’t have that call, but hopefully they’ll find a way to that call. Whether it comes in the form of a friend or intimate relationship.