GA writes: I am 64 years old. I have arthritis in my knees. I stand up all day at work and ride a bus which takes hours to and from. I work on Saturdays and Sundays so that cuts out almost all of my social time I would have at church. Funds are very tight. Any suggestions for how to deal with the isolation and loneliness I feel.

Dear GA,

Thanks for reaching out. I hear this kind of story all the time. Too many people are going through the kind of thing your are struggling with these days.

It makes me very sad to hear that in our great country a 64-year-old person would have to suffer this way to survive, and that there is no time for you to maintain your personal and spiritual connections through the church.

Whether I am talking to a young mother who is under pressure from her law firm to work 15-hour days and cannot spend time with her young children, or a couple who is on the verge of divorce because the husband has to be on the road 4 days a week, or the woman who cannot even have a personal life because she has to work so much just to pay the rent, the stories are, at root, the same.

We have lost our sense of balance in our country, where too many people are forced to live to work instead of work to live. This way of life is having profound consequences. Mostly, it creates exactly what you say: isolation and loneliness. And I would say that isolation and loneliness are about the worst thing that people can feel.

I wish I had a quick, easy answer for you. I feel terrible and powerless that I cannot give you that easy answer. Here is what I can say. Though I don't know your complete situation, I do know that in even the most difficult situations we can almost always find hope. Though we cannot always see the answer, there is usually an answer to be found.

First, since no one else seems to be taking care of you right now, you must do all you can to take care of yourself. Though changing habits can be hard, loving yourself is the first step. This means taking care of your body. And that means at least eating simple, healthy foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Let's see if we can do what we can to get that arthritis under control. That's something no one can stop you from doing.

Next, reaching out in any way you can is important. It is terrific that you wrote to me. If it is possible, I would be happy to maintain some kind of contact. There are many support groups, including through whatever church you are part of, that provide online support. Start there, and then through phone contact. When we reach out, it is amazing to discover how much love is truly available in the world.

I hope this is a start, and this helps. Please keep in touch.


Author's Bio: 

Glenn Berger, PhD,is a psychotherapist with 15 years experience in private practice. His invention, "Shrinky" gives you virtually what any good psychotherapist offers:

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