This is post is written as a collaboration.
One of my biggest fears, aside from slugs, is being lonely.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE an hour to myself here and there, I just don’t like feeling lonely.
The first time I really felt lonely was after having Aoife. .
I was prepared for a lot of changes once I had children – sleepless nights, being covered in someone else’s detritus and envy at the wild weekends of others.
One thing I hadn’t anticipated was how lonely I would get.
I didn’t even consider it a possibility, why would I?
I had friends, a small person with me at all times and Rory would be around on evenings and weekends.
The thing is, when you have children, so much more changes.
Days with a brand new human are long and lived through a fog of complete exhaustion.
Half of my friends were child free and not interested in tales of dirty nappies and sleeplessness.
The other half didn’t actually abandon me, there were invites for coffee and play dates but I just couldn’t face meeting up or going out.
And so a vicious cycle begins.
Luckily, being a parent, we follow a similar cycle to many other parents and so, the children starting school brings with it a chance to meet new people and, if you’re lucky, make new friends.
The experience did lead me to think about getting old though.
If it was possible for me to feel completely lonely after such a short time and with a good network of people around me, what would old age bring?
Once Rory has left this fair earth, for his demise will be sooner than mine, I may be alone.
Yes, I have the children but hopefully they will be travelling the world and doing all the amazing things that I wish for them, however, it may mean they forget to call from one month to the next.
I like to think I’ll be one of those old dears with ridiculously trendy glasses and something social on daily – dancing, gin night, Bridge Club (what even is Bridge?), wine tasting and the like.
But what if I suffer ill health. What if I don’t see or speak to another soul from the minute I wake up to when I go to bed?
How do you fight elderly loneliness?
What if I find myself with an ailment that means I struggle to even bathe in the morning, which would lead to me not going out, which would lead to me feeling alone and so, another cycle would begin.
Age UK have recently determined that over one million elderly people in the UK are chronically lonely and this has been known to lead to loneliness-induced depression. Currently 20% of elderly men and 30% of elderly women are suffering according to the NHS.
That’s a LOT of people.
While we all hope to maintain our independence as we get older, it doesn’t mean that we want to be completely abandoned and left to our own devices, there is a fine line between the two.
Luckily, I have a fair way to go before I reach old age so in the meantime I’m going to be super nice to my kids in hope they will remember to remember me when I’m old. I think I’ll also look into volunteering to spend time elderly people in my community.
After all, it will cost nothing and it’s nice to be nice.