Loneliness in old age

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When I was working on this project, my mother was 83. My neighbours, who are widows and widowers, are really interesting, entertaining, humorous people, but are rarely noticed because people don’t take the time to listen. I got to know these people on a personal basis and found they all have something in common – they are so lonely. Loneliness in old age is a terrible side effect of our culture.

Photography is my voice, so I decided to do a photo essay to raise awareness of this situation in our society – to give a voice to the seniors who are lonely. If, by creating this awareness, I could just change the life of one senior, then I have achieved my goal.

Does Lieselotte’s strory resonate with you? Do you know someone in her situation who you could reach out to?

See more of Petra’s work on Flickr.

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Written by petrabe


Total Comments: 33
  1. 0

    have a friend who lives on own…says she is not lonely but that is just a facade. Loneliness in the elderly is terrible and the only person she sees is the postie ..her family rarely visit as they are tied up with their own lives and live some distance away. I am firmly of the belief that not speaking to another person on a daily basis hastens dementia.

  2. 0

    As a widower I know what it is like its strange when my wife passed away she was only sixty I found all our friends seemed to go their own way. But I think that is how Australians have become in the last 20 years. It used to be look after your neighbour now its I am ok stuff you. When my father came to this country after being a prisoner of war in Poland I remember him saying how great the people of this country are how they would give you the shirt of their backs how times have changed saying all that I have got on with life and am enjoying it .

    • 0

      So true, ollie – now it’s catch as catch can greed is good and every man for himself.

      It concerns me that everyone with an ‘issue’ these days demands that BigGuv step in and enforce it for them… been that way since the heady days of the Great Feminist Revolution – The Cause – country’s never looked up since.

  3. 0

    As a widower I know what it is like its strange when my wife passed away she was only sixty I found all our friends seemed to go their own way. But I think that is how Australians have become in the last 20 years. It used to be look after your neighbour now its I am ok stuff you. When my father came to this country after being a prisoner of war in Poland I remember him saying how great the people of this country are how they would give you the shirt of their backs how times have changed saying all that I have got on with life and am enjoying it .

  4. 0

    I’ve suffered from loneliness all of my life; it’s getting worse.

    • 0

      Ah, for some men nothing is written unless they write it themselves… Lawrence of Arabia.

      You may be an exceptionally intelligent person etc – such things are not uncommon. We do live in a world in which people don’t really know their neighbours any more.

      Just moved to a new neighbourhood near the sea – the bloke next door was very welcoming – his missus ‘quiet’ – she came out t’other day to check on why I was sawing up a piece of timber to make a step for the disabled ex…. didn’t say a word… I do hope she’s not one of those schizos who ‘don’t like noise’ – got a few other things to do yet.

    • 0

      I find that loneliness and depression are linked the more depressed I am the less I want to mix with people it might be just me. I am a great one telling people that they should get help but I don’t take my own advice

    • 0

      Ollie, thank you for your honesty..so many hide the fact that they “are” lonely. if it was not for me pushing my husband to mix outside the home he would not move. if anything happens to me at least he will have company.ok to say you like your own company but in the long run it is not good for you to be on your own all the time. I am also not one for coffee mornings and people popping in and out every day but I do like company on my terms and where I live there is plenty around.

  5. 0

    43 ‘ministers’ out of 76 seats and you want more?

    When are some of those silver-tailed bludgers going to actually work?

    We need a Minister for Men to match those for women, ethnics, Aboriginals and so forth…

  6. 0

    We need to send this to the next pea-brained idiot who advocates the elderly being moved from their homes to save a couple of dollars for “taxpayers”.

  7. 0

    I`m 80 yrs live on my own now AND I thoroughly enjoy it!I THINK AS HUMAN BEINGS we are meant to be social BUT that doesn`t`mean you can`t be perfectly happy outside of society too!YOU CAN BE ALONE BUT NOT NECESSARILY LONELY!!I find(aftera busy life family travel etcetc that ISOLATION brings with it A SPECIAL peace AND tranquility that I READILY embrace!I ENJOY the calmness and stillness that it brings and is something to be treasured in a world focused on SPEED and COMPETITION!I FEEL THAT YOUR HAPPINESS comes from within youand try to live an optimistic life.Being on my own isa time to rejoice I HAVE A COUPLE OF MANTRAS I USE..`HOW CAN YOU BE LONELY IF YOU `LIKE` THE PERSON YOU`RE WITH (YOU)..AND ON A MORNING …..NO MATTER HOW YOU FEEL GET UP!DRESS UP!SHOW UP!AND NEVER GIVE UP!!!!i occupy myself by painting,computer on line,fitness (walking)some TV and chat occassionally to my family!BUT I DON`T (NEVER)SIT AROUND FEELING SORRY FOR MYSELF!I`M GRATEFUL FOR WHAT I`VE HAD /GOT and not what I HAVEN`T GOT! TO EACH HIS OWN BUT I TRY TO REVEL IN MY INDEPENDENCE regarding my life (and what`s left of it)and living alone!!I ALWAYS TRY AND RESPECT MYSELF AND BE AS CONFIDENT AS I CAN BE!!(HOPE THIS HELPS!!!X

    • 0

      Why are you yelling at us with capitals?
      The Men’s club was set up for men who felt disconnected after retirement. Women have similar avenues.
      If you have wheels, money and your health, communication with the outside world continues.

      Texting adds to the loneliness as everyone can high speed their ‘duty’ call. Christmas and Easter that require a massive effort and a huge expense are “all” family on one day events. You work like a slave – they are gone and that’s it for quite some time because they all came at once.

      I would agree that the weekends are the worst because you know families are all having a lovely time somewhere and is uncool to have a grandparent tag along these days. I remember how I, as an adult, used to love being with my parents on family picnics. I would love being just a phone call away and my Mum was just there.

      I would have to say having a dog to meet up with fellow retirees and others at the off leach areas is great. We chat about all sorts of useless – yet seemingly important issues and then go back to a less burdened life.

      Loneliness is a huge issue and our lack of connectivity as a society as a whole is the cause of many social issues for every age.

    • 0

      Berry Upset……please try not to use capital letters unless you are wanting to emphasise one or two (read ONE or TWO), words…..it is considered to be rude on social media… also, it is actually really hard to read. Thanks.

    • 0

      Congratulations BERRYUPSET like me, you have mastered the art of what I call self-psychology. Being able to help yourself no matter what the issue is by using your very own brain power and not relying on anyone else to come to your rescue. We all need to fill our lives with so many activities that we stop feeling sorry for ourselves. Change the negative thoughts to positive ones. There are a multitude of clubs to join, activities to do and if you can’t afford any of those you can always go for a walk somewhere safe and enjoy the wildlife, people you bump into, pets in people’s yards, plants etc. Hop on a bus and go walk around a botanical garden or park. That doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I find I am always the one who has to arrange get togethers with friends but am just grateful I actually have friends. It takes EFFORT to make friends and retain friends so to anyone out there who is lonely, stop feeling negatively and get out there and make some friends.

  8. 0

    Loneliness takes many forms. Some people are restricted by their inability to travel or go out much. Others have limited funds to do anything with like going on holiday or eating out and travelling to family. The internet is wonderful in that it allows a connection to the world and to family. Maybe an elderly person on their own needs to tell her family that she is lonely. Maybe she does not want to seem needy, but she should let them know how she feels. They may not stop to realise that she could be feeling like this.
    Selfishness is another reason for loneliness. The grandparents are no longer needed for childminding or money lending.
    Maybe we need to help ourselves. Join Men’s Shed or Card/games mornings or host a morning tea at home for your neighbours. Create our own world of companions by being proactive. Look for other lonely people and help them which would also help you.
    It is sad and should not happen but don’t accept it do something about it.

  9. 0

    know the feeling, family all dead now , neighbours are hostile from the moment i moved in friends i thought i had 10 years ago I dont back them since then …………………

  10. 0

    Alone , but not lonely.
    Perhaps I am lucky; have been alone for some 22 years now.
    However I make use of whatever community services I can avail myself of.
    I still drive , pickup my lonely friends for different club meetings. I volunteer once a week at the local TAFE.
    I belong to two clubs and serve on the committee for both .

    My local volunteering Transport group will pick me up for various outings when I have the time!

    I’m an only child, so no brothers or sisters to “ call upon”.
    Family keep in touch, but I don’t see a lot of them.

    If you live on your own , social interactions are a must!
    There are many community groups that can help you. Scan your free papers for information, yes, you do have to put in some effort but I have found it worthwhile.

    Community Noticeboards offer good contacts re clubs in your area.
    Get help from your GP if necessary- speak up , ( nicely) or you will get “ lost in the system“!
    Remain positive please…

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