Solitude is one fastest killer of the older people. While being alone can sometimes be a benefit to one’s health, it is unsafe for the elderly.
Pappy, my neighbour, is a father and a widower in his early 90s and he lives alone. It was his choice. He has children, and then his two housekeepers who come in at different days of the week. Also, he has the town council who comes every day to deliver his freshly prepared daily meals. The latter happens to be the rules of the mayor to catering for the older adults in our small town of 10,000 people.
There is no doubt that Pappy would instead prefer to live in his own house than in a retired home. Sharing one’s life with a beloved is much better than spending it all by oneself.
Most times, Pappy often talked about his late wife, how he missed her, and then his reduced mobility. I’d recall he used to drive four years ago until one day he put an end to that and sold the car to one of his granddaughters. Throughout those years he would mow his lawn, plants salades and other legumes. He taught me a lot about planting, and he helped me fix a broken electric cable my mower accidentally cut off.
The years had passed, and with times, Pappy struggles with an ultimate sense of solitude. Unlike in the West Africa societies where the elderly are barely left on their own because their children will ensure someone lives in with them, the many older people in the Western spaces are resigned to being alone. Most retired homes are unfit, in particular, when hearing cases of maltreatment of the elderly being exposed over there. Besides, many people abandon their aged parents to flee their responsibilities. In such cases, they violated the care of ethics.
When you have neighbours like Pappy, my suggestion is that, as a genuine Christian, it becomes a necessity to always check on them either by telephoning or a simple walk straight to their door while maintaining a healthy distance.