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From Frank...Village News for September 8

As you know, I’ve been on a tear about loneliness and isolation, spurred by the emerging research that says that being lonely is equivalent to smoking nearly a pack of cigarettes each day. I’ve certainly experienced loneliness in the past, for example when my husband initially moved to Greenland for work. The odd thing about my experience is that it took me a while to know and admit that I was lonely. Maybe others could tell, but I didn’t know until I started having trouble sleeping and everyday seemed grey. I wasn’t even cooking for myself, and cooking is a hobby I’m passionate about. I finally let a friend know how I was feeling, and it prompted them to ask me over for dinner. Often it is the simplest gestures that can make a big difference in someone’s life!

Other signs of loneliness, particularly among older adults, include avoidance of social opportunities, decline in personal hygiene, and expressing thoughts of hopelessness to oneself or others. The risk factors for loneliness include: feeling left behind when others migrate, widowhood, not being able to do activities of daily living by oneself, living alone, and loss of loved ones.

And yet, there are ways to address being lonely once one admits it to him or herself. A recent New York Times article, offers some solutions, including “ simply to get people back into old-fashioned patterns like eating meals together, holding parties and volunteering to help one another out.” To that end, we’ve got a calendar of activities planned, including tomorrow’s concert at Rosedale, Wednesday’s Lunch Bunch at the Parthenon restaurant, a tour of the National Museum of American History, and our upcoming first free, Sunday Supper at All Souls Episcopal on October 1. Of course, there are also book clubs, a French conversation group, and yoga, walking groups, and stretching classes too.

If you’re an introvert like me (yes, believe it that I am an introvert who rises to the occasion when necessary), it can be hard to walk into a room full of people, and nearly impossible if I don’t know someone in the room. Rest assured that at each event, there are organizers that are there to help everyone get acquainted. In fact, we have a few members who volunteer their time to orient new members and welcome them.

Finally, the New York Times article cited above also points out that volunteering for others is a great way to address one’s feeling of loneliness. We’re always looking for volunteers to help with Village tasks, some within our office each week, but we’re also interested in forming some “volunteer teams” to help within the larger community. So, if you’re interested in working in some way to address a cause near and dear to your heart, please call the office at 202-615-5853 with details of your interests and availability. I bet we can get a group of people who could volunteer together to fight homelessness, feed the hungry, or some other equally important cause.


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