Remember those busy days when our families were young and on the move? People surrounded us. In addition to our friends and family, the parents of our children’s friends, neighbors, church ministries, and coworkers filled our lives. How often we wished back then for a quiet moment.
As that wish becomes a reality, we can find our senior years quite silent. The children leave home and we retire, we lose touch with those bustling communities. It becomes more difficult to initiate contact with younger families we know are busy or meet and form new friendships.
Loneliness is a common result of the changes in life, especially for seniors who live alone or with someone they no longer connect with. According to a study by the University of California, San Francisco, loneliness can be life-threatening. The study estimated that people 60-years-old and older who reported feeling lonely were at a 45% greater risk of death. Isolated seniors had a 59% greater risk of mental and physical decline compared to those who were more social.
The most challenging part of this situation is that most of us don’t want to be around lonely people. Their condition and our reaction keep them even more isolated.
This is where that loving one another command challenges us to reach out. And if we need a payoff, Scripture says we will be rewarded for our efforts: “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble” (Psalm 41:1).
It doesn’t take much. Engage a senior in a meaningful phone conversation, drop off a few of those cookies you just baked and spend a few minutes at the door, send a kind note, invite them to the next meeting at church, or offer a ride to the grocery store. A little bit of kindness can lighten their spirit and our day as well.
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