Are America’s seniors facing an ‘aloneness’ epidemic?

Are America’s seniors facing an ‘aloneness’ epidemic?

Recently, my coworkers and I have begun to see a spike in the number of seniors in our community who go days on end without human contact. Yet when asked if they’re lonely, they say no.

These individuals are quite content with their daily schedule. In many cases, they’re proud of their independence—even if it means a lack of socialization and the absence of trusted resources.

This journey into aloneness can be likened to the tale of the boiling frog.

As the fable goes, if a frog is suddenly put into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water, which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

A not-so-pretty analogy but one that bears truth for some seniors who, over time, have isolated themselves.

More and more older adults picking up pickleball

More and more older adults picking up pickleball

I’ve never been a sports-oriented person. I’m not sure if it’s the required physical exertion or the competitive aspect that doesn’t excite me, but I’d much rather spend my days pursuing a host of other activities.

So when my husband announced he wanted us to join a club and play pickleball, I was less than enthused.

Sure, I’d heard that pickleball was one of the fastest-growing sports in America and was being played by lots of older adults, but I really knew nothing about the details.

Pickleball is a paddle sport that requires two to four players using a solid paddle, hitting a Wiffle-type ball over a low net. Players use an underarm stroke to serve the ball and play it on a court that’s about one-quarter the size of a tennis court, so there’s less physical exertion.

The game was invented 50 years ago as a way for three dads to keep their kids occupied. The fathers creatively used materials they had around the house and yard to fashion the paddles, ball, net and court, and then made up the rules.

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