It’s difficult making new friends these days. Making friends as an older person is even harder.
But a close neighbor in California just showed us that we can all do something extra to help older people erase the isolation and loneliness they experience by becoming their friends.
Marleen Brooks of Missouri came home with a heartbreaking letter from her neighbor. The 90-year-old from down the street wrote to her to let her know she is lonely all the time. She asked if the two of them could be close friends.
Brooks shared the note with a news anchor at KTVU, who shared the note on his profile Facebook page.
Here’s what was written in the note:
Would you like to become my friend.
I’m 90 years old and I live alone.
All my friends have passed away long time ago
I feel lonely and scared.
Please, I pray for someone.
Brooks wrote the following caption which was also shared by the news anchor on his Facebook.
I came home with this note from an old lady that lives down on mine street. Makes my heart sad, but on the good side looks like I will have a new friend.
Brooks went to her elderly neighbor’s house in the evening to introduce herself. She brought cupcakes and snacks.
After the meeting, Brooks wrote to the news anchor to let him know how it was. It was shared on his Facebook page.
She’s such a sweet and good old lady! And she was happy over the moon when we came over.
Here’s what the 90-year-old woman, Wanda, said when they made a visit:
I hope it wasn’t stupid for writing you, but I had to do something. Thank you so much for coming over for visiting me. I’ve lived here more than 50 years and don’t know any of my neighbors.
It’s sad to think that someone has lived somewhere for 50 years without knowing her neighbors. This happens to many older people in our communities who suffer from being perpetually alone.
Brooks said that the old lady Wanda told her she has three sons and one of them passed out last year of cancer. Another son lives close and the other far away. Wanda shared that she has few sicknesses like congestive heart failure, osteoporosis.
In 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it was proven that social isolation and loneliness are correlated with a big risk of mortality in adults aged 52 and more.
We all can make a maybe small difference today by being more mindful of the loneliness suffered by elderly people in our societies. You may have a family member who you haven’t visited for some period. Pay them a visit sooner rather than later. Every day you come close to an elderly person at the local grocery store. PLEASE always Smile and say hello to them. It costs NOTHING.
Unfortunately, Wanda’s sad story of loneliness and isolation is not unique. Many older people in our societies suffer from the same kind of isolation.
There are so many people out there who are sharing this experience of Wanda. She was happy that Brooks responded this way to her letter, but others aren’t so lucky like her.
If you’ve read this far into the article, please knock on your neighbor’s door, or say hello how are you to an elderly person at the grocery store where you meet them.
Maybe it’s not a big deal for you but could mean the world to them. And you never know when you will make a new friend.