Lack of creative resources: the norm for many seniors
by Dorothy Lowrie
The creativity of individuals during this pandemic has been highlighted through social media, television and radio. This ranges from people finding creative ways to keep their businesses going, to keeping the children entertained, to sewing masks to help care workers, and more.
It is great to hear of someone pursuing their passion in a time of need. It is wonderful to share how the pursuit of creativity is helping individuals and families to stay mentally and physically positive.
As all Canadians experience isolation during this pandemic, my hope is that we take the time to reflect how important creativity is to the health of our society. And for the future, we need to consider how resources can be made available to enrich the lives of those seniors whose norm is a life of financial and physical isolation.
In my work encouraging and supporting aging adults in life fulfilment, one of the programs offered suggests that seniors look back on their lives to identify points where they may have felt that creative passion. But due to other life responsibilities or circumstances, they either had to put those passions on hold or they were just fleeting thoughts, never realised. What this process might identify for individuals are areas of creativity that present opportunities to add growth and renewal to their retirement life.
This exercise is particularly directed to those who were either just embarking on retired life or those who had been retired for a time and were feeling stuck. I have found that there are many seniors who have discovered the joy of keeping busy pursuing numerous passions. For some, it has led them to develop products, set up new companies or to take a stand for social action causes.
However, many forms of creativity are dependent on having the right resources. Many seniors have the financial and physical ability to belong to seniors’ associations or groups where those resources are available. But there is also a hidden population of seniors who are struggling just to have enough money to pay for rent and food, let alone having enough money to pay for membership in associations or groups, and then the additional cost of courses or materials. And if free or low-cost programs do exist, perhaps there is a difficulty in their ability to access the programs due to physical mobility or access to transportation. The result is a population of seniors who have become isolated because they lack the resources to continue to stay active. Isolation and the accompanying loneliness are the normal way of life for a large number of seniors.
Certainly, the first requirement is to ensure that these individuals have all their physical needs taken care of, such as food and shelter. But providing mental stimulation is so important to healthy aging. This is where I believe society needs to ‘get creative’ in how we can ensure this hidden population of isolated seniors are supported.
There are many examples of ‘loving our neighbour’ that we are seeing through this forced isolation of ‘everyone’. There are lonely seniors right in our neighbourhoods. Be aware of the plight of our senior neighbours. During this challenging time of forced isolation, let us reach out and extend our help beyond that of offering to deliver food. One simple way is to show interest in someone’s life. Why not take some time on a phone call, or at a distance over a fence, to ask your senior neighbour about their life and their creative passions?
A few lines from the song, “Hello In There” by John Prine that a friend shared with me:
You know that old trees grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder everyday
Old people, just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say Hello in
Dorothy Lowrie runs Human Learning Architecture, a place engaging, enabling, and empowering aging adults in their changing creative, social and spiritual needs.
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