Seniors: Choosing Isolation or Association

Feb 18th, 2011 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Depending on your own nature, choosing between isolation and association becomes a variable for seniors as we age.  We are met with the desire for peace, tranquility, reduced tension, and as little fret as possible.  That would seem to argue for isolation, i.e. being set apart and left alone. 

The other option is to be happily occupied, busy, involved.  Having something to do, someone around, some dynamic to stir the pot of energy or creating a synergy of activity are the desires chosen by those who are stimulated by activity. 

Neither is the “best choice.”  As in most cases, what works for some doesn’t work for others.  And, it is likely that many, maybe most, will want to develop a blend of  balance, both activity and quietude. 

I grew up an only child.  I enjoy being by myself and not having to deal with intrusions from others, no matter the need.  But I also enjoy interaction, companionship, association … on my terms.  I cherish time with valued friends and family, but the limits have to be set.  Part of that is having had the experience of living with very few people in the house in growing up. 

My spouse, who has three sisters, grew up in an environment in which two parents, a grandmother and four little girls lived in one household, with the needs of all seven merging at the same time in the same household everyday…  Lots of interaction… lots of noise… lots of shared joy and sorrow… You get the drift… 

Parties, gatherings, familial activity all are very wholesome and to be created both for pleasure and satisfaction, as is solitary activity … just needing and wanting to be alone.  One critical issue is to find the fine line between preserving family tradition and joy emanating from historical experience, and broadening those lines to include others who have joined the family since its early history.  Without the inclusion of new family members, the ‘new’ family experience will create the infamous ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’… which leads to internal dissension and family breakdown.  Not a good experience either for the one who has enjoyed being a single child, or for the one who dearly loved growing up with her three sister-best-friends.  Each person with divergent childhood experiences around activity and isolation needs to be open to including those with different/opposing childhood experiences in their daily lives as adults.  That’s what a family does.

As adults, we have the choice to choose either isolation from others, or association with others, or a happy and comfortable balance between the two.  Our life experiences contribute to the choices we make about how we live out our adult lives with others.  The balance between isolation and association needs to be carefully defined and chosen, to insure our health and happiness in our senior years.



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