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Death of Peers: A Difficulty of Aging

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The only certain thing is death and taxes, as the saying goes. But that doesn't make losing family and close friends any easier. Help seniors make an effort to stay engaged in life when they suffer loss.

Q. In the past year, three of my close friends have died, leaving the social circle that my late husband and I enjoyed for many years with less than half of its original members. I am a 79-year-old woman having trouble dealing with these sudden and drastic losses. Do you have any suggestions?

It's an inevitable fact of life: the longer one lives the greater the likelihood of outliving family and friends. Any way you look at it, it's depressing to lose those nearest and dearest to us. But life goes on and so should you.

Why not invite new members to your group? Perhaps other widowers would enjoy the company of a fun-loving social gathering. It's good to remember your friends who have passed on by observing some of the same types of activities, but why not think of new places to go. That way you're not constantly reminded of "the old days." Or plan other kinds of activities – like board games instead of cards.

Vary your own social life as well. Keeping busy is the key. Why not try volunteering at a hospital or a school for a few hours a week? Re-connect with old friends and family who live elsewhere by telephone, mail or e-mail. Take up a hobby like gardening or knitting or scrapbooking, and join others in a group who like to do those same things. Have friends over for a morning coffee or an afternoon iced tea.

Because you've lost several close friends this year, it might be helpful to sign up for a grief class or join a bereavement group, many of which are offered through churches or synagogues. That way you could share your feelings and talk about those you've loved and lost.

Here's another idea: Why not hire a part-time companion to help you fill your time and spend your days? A Home Instead® CAREGiverSM could provide a welcome respite by offering companionship and assistance with meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands and shopping.

The company makes every effort to match CAREGivers with seniors of like interests. Many have become treasured friends with their senior clients and together attend social activities, such as parties and concerts, and enjoy meals and other special days together. Remember, you're never too old to make new friends.

Last revised: March 11, 2011

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