Is there a Pandemic of Loneliness?
As a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES), I market my properties and services to prospective clients of a mature age. I focus on reaching out to individuals that live in communities with high populations of residents aged 55+, and my website, www.DrAnnMeyerson.com, features content specifically for seniors considering the components of "making the right move". Additionally, I affiliate with several professional organizations that assist aging populations.
Needless to say, I consider myself an expert on senior issues as I interact with older folks regularly. Often, I present housing information to local residents in colorful 'farming postcards'. The feedback has been very unique and truly, unexpected.
After my most recent real estate mailing was sent out, I received a request for a market evaluation from Alan. Upon responding with a mini-Comparative Market Analysis, I asked if I could provide any additional assistance.
He responded, "Well, I’d like to find a woman over 75 who is well-educated, likes art, architecture, ballet and so on. Also physically fit and attractive. I am 88, but people think I am still in my 70’s. I walk 8 miles a day. I'm really looking for a female friend-not a wife- not 24/7 maybe 12/4. What’s the commission rate?”
I could easily sympathize with Alan. He is certainly not alone in his search for companionship. I have had many similar conversations with lonely individuals of advancing age who are seeking friendship or romance as part of their journey forward. When I recently received an invitation from ElderServicesResourceNetwork for an event discussing ‘The Challenges of Solo Agers', I realized many senior-focused professionals were observing the same thing.
Loneliness, now more than ever, is a critical issue for older individuals. Over the span of the COVID-19 pandemic, dating, website searches, casual meetings and social events have been dialed back. The result is that lonely and isolated seniors are seeking to fill the social void as we return to some semblance of normalcy. With all of these "special requests", starting a new business as Senior Match Maker Specialist (SMMS) to encourage social interactions may be on my horizons! However, in the meantime, I would like to suggest a few strategies for seniors moving forward:
Be realistic about your relationship goals. Alan was quite clear about who he wanted to meet.
Reach out to family, friends and neighbors for introductions and possible ‘fix-ups.’ This is a less intimidating way to improve socialization. I actually have thought of two attractive female friends that might be receptive to a blind date with Alan!
Explore the transition opportunities available in housing. Senior Communities with lively social calendars can help facilitate interactions. Many times, activities are scheduled through the Club House on a weekly or monthly basis. If considering an Independent or Assisted Living alternative, ask about the classes and events being offered.
Most importantly, all of us should consider the psychological impact that isolation and loneliness can have on those around us. I encourage everyone to be kind and nonjudgmental. Many are having a very trying time right now. A friendly "hello" or brief chat can go along way in creating a sense of belonging and optimism for the future.