Loneliness where is your Sting? There is a Looming Epidemic of Loneliness, Take it seriously!

Cover Photo: Japan’s prime minister YoshihideSuga, announced a minister of loneliness to his cabinet last month, closely following a similar announcement in January 2018 by the United Kingdom (UK). Loneliness is rarely acknowledged, deeply misunderstood, and alongside anxiety and depression, presents a massive opportunity for rectification as India copes with Covid-19 and beyond. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

 

Hindustan Times

03 March 2021

Saumyajit Roy

 

We come into this world and go out of it all alone! Then, why rejoice at entry point and cry at exit? Further we call this world, a vale (valley) of tears, and the next, a heaven of joy above! Don’t we believe what we say? Why this contradiction? Can’t we call a spade, a spade?

 

What are we sure of: This world we have lived or struggled through, pain and pleasure, bitter/sweet, or the next we have only dreamt of, don’t know if it exists at all? I am  ‘know-nothing’, You the know-alls,  please, enlighten this idiot, blinder than ‘Barthimeus!’

 

Loneliness, a Problem?

But the fact is LONELINESS is a problem for most of the elderly above 60, if they are also left alone without family,children,friends and without any purposeful thing to do. Many such people resort to Euthanasia, as it happens in Netherlands, Belgium etc. For me, it is cowardice!

 

According to Indian thought, human life is divided into 4 stages: Brahmachrya, Garhastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa! By sheer chance – just to emphasize it was not planned – I happened to go to Ashram Church, near on my 60th  birthday and the Gospel reading and preaching was on the blind beggar BARTHIMEUS! That was a catastrophic happening, turning my life upside down!

 

See what that blind beggar did

That day I decided to retire from life – Vanaprasthagave my body to medical college, Ernakulam, in writing – for which I received a lot of criticism from friends and well wishers. After 60 again unexpectedly, my life turned out to be most productive. I am now running 86 (more sure on my scooter than on feet), radically changed in my vision of life here bellow, the only thing, I know a bit, so still studying hard to reduce my ignorance!

 

For long I lived, still only for a day – from dawn to dusk – and that gets me nowhere to finish all what I want to read – being a voracious reader — and writer. So time flies past without my knowledge. The HELL for me is to stay idle. Apart from reading and writing, I do kitchen gardening with spade, crowbar and ladder to pluck pepper, mangoes and jack fruit, bananas or papayas from garden for daily fruit. 

 

When literally tired

When literally tired I resort to “Lay Apostolate” – lying flat on a coat to dose off, more often, compelled these days! So don’t know how time flies past. Of course, waiting all the time for “Passport” to heaven I know nothing about at any time! Awful lot to write, if there is another day! So rejoice and don’t cry at my passing away!

 

For example, just think of a “KalanillaKalam”(Times when death has disappeared}, a poem I studied at tender age and laughed over! But just reflect over problems faced by aged persons like 72 year old Professor Vibha Saxena and others face in their real lives and suggestwhat you and I can do for them. jameskottoor, editor ccv.

 

Please read the article below

on Loneliness in Hindustan Times!

 

India has a real opportunity to showcase solutions to a global audience towards using the best of tech and expertise in reducing loneliness. While a dedicated ministry for loneliness may just be the impetus, all we need is to look for are basic ways and means to help people who are on the brink of feeling lonely.

 

Imagine a hypothetical scenario. Vibha Saxena, a 72-year-old professor of literature, has spent her life in Dehradun, where her children grew up and where her husband passed away a year ago.

 

Though she lives alone, Saxena cannot think of a time she ever felt lonely. Why? Because her day has been curated by her relationship manager. At 8 am sharp, she calls Saxena to check in, sharing news headlines and reminding her to be ready for her online class in the evening.

 

Saxena looks forward to these conversations, comforted in knowing that there is someone available at the click of a button. At 10 am, Saxena’s app alerts her to take her medications. By 10.30 am, her home is cleaned by a team arranged by the manager. At lunchtime, a professional meal service, organised by the same manager, arrives with the special diet necessary for her heart condition.

 

In the afternoon, Saxena’s app reminds her it is time for her online English Literature class. She logs in and is excited to see a global audience for her class on Shakespeare, welcoming her with loud applause. After a busy day, Saxena looks forward to having dinner in peace while video-chatting with her newfound friend whom she met online recently.

 

This imaginary life represents the possibilities in the battle against loneliness, an epidemic running so deep and with such impact, that it dwarfs Covid-19.

 

Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga, announced a minister of loneliness to his cabinet last month, closely following a similar announcement in January 2018 by the United Kingdom (UK). Loneliness is rarely acknowledged, deeply misunderstood, and alongside anxiety and depression, presents a massive opportunity for rectification as India copes with Covid-19 and beyond.

 

Considered a taboo subject, with most adults too scared to admit that they are lonely, the UK itself has close to 33% and the United States (US) close to 50% of its people who accept they are lonely.

 

In India, as per the recently released Longitudinal Ageing Study of India, approximately 23% of elderly stay alone, without children.

 

While loneliness can have an impact across ages and be relevant irrespective whether you stay alone or in a full house, it is most common among those above 60 and affects almost everyone at some point in time.

 

The impact of loneliness on our physical and mental health is acute, with resultant challenges in blood pressure, increased likelihood of dementia and depression. Yet, as a result perhaps of our childhood socialisation, no one likes to admit that they are lonely. We are trained to grow up trying to show a false sense of connectivity, a false sense of happiness and independence, and this has been the underlying driver for the growth of social media.

 

The impact of loneliness has been compared to having 15 cigarettes a day and, left unchecked, can cause severe mental wellness challenges. Loneliness, on the other hand, should not be mixed with solitude where one is at peace spiritually with one’s self and does not mind staying alone.

 

Thankfully, the vaccine for loneliness exists, right in our midst. Our local communities, social support systems, family and friends, even social media, and online and offline-curated programming can help reduce the sense of emptiness that accompanies loneliness. It also helps to build on India’s expertise with hospitality and consumer services brands, which have created great concepts and models of engaging their customers through trained “relationship managers”.

 

If we extend this same concept to people who are lonely and alone, we could perhaps bridge the gap that leads to feelings of loneliness.

 

India has a real opportunity to showcase solutions to a global audience towards using the best of tech and expertise in reducing loneliness. While a dedicated ministry for loneliness may just be the impetus, all we need is to look for are basic ways and means to help people who are on the brink of feeling lonely.

 

In our world, we have seen the magic of that one call every day. This shouldn’t be so difficult if you can make it your daily ritual to call at least one person who you know is alone. And see that transformation happen.

Saumyajit Roy is a co-founder and CEO, Emoha Eldercare. The views expressed are his personal.

 

 

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *