Retirement, losing his spouse, and an injury that limited his mobility, left Doug feeling isolated and alone during the pandemic.
1. NAVIGATING CHANGE
After retiring five years ago from a career in manufacturing operations, Doug and his wife of over four decades had planned to live out their “golden years” traveling and spending time with family. Those plans were soon derailed when she was diagnosed with cancer and passed away after a two-year illness. “When my wife died so soon after I retired, it felt like I’d lost everything in the blink of an eye – not just my life partner, but my purpose and the plans we’d made for spending these years together.”
2. LOSING INDEPENDENCE
Then early last year, Doug experienced a foot injury that required minor surgery and a few weeks of physical therapy to regain strength and mobility. “I couldn’t drive or walk very far so I had to depend on the kindness of family and friends to help with everything – even basic errands and household chores.” He struggled to adjust to this loss of independence, while also still grieving the loss of his wife and their retirement plans.
LONELINESS AND ISOLATION
3. LONELINESS AND ISOLATION
When the global pandemic hit, Doug hadn’t yet recovered from his foot injury but no longer felt safe having helpful visitors in his home. Cut off from his support network, he stopped going to physical therapy appointments and soon fell behind on grocery shopping and filling his prescriptions. Every Sunday he spoke by video chat with his daughter and assured her he was doing fine, but she sensed he was becoming distant and withdrawn. “I felt extremely lonely and isolated but didn’t want to burden her at a time when I know she was already juggling her young family’s transition to working and going to school from home.”
4. GETTING SUPPORT
Doug wasn’t sleeping well and had no appetite; he’d lost weight and his normally neat appearance had become disheveled. When a concerned neighbor reached out to Doug’s daughter, she and Doug had a frank conversation about how he was feeling and what they could do to help him feel better. They made an appointment to see Doug’s doctor together and come up with a plan to help him heal both physically and mentally.
5. MAKING PROGRESS
In addition to setting up a nutrition/meal plan and getting back on track with physical therapy, Doug started seeing a counselor remotely so he could talk about his grief and learn to cope with so many recent life changes. Once his foot had recovered enough, he began walking outside several days a week so he could visit from a safe distance with neighbors. His daughter also helped him find activities available through his local senior center, where he’s built new social connections.
ENJOYING LIFE AGAIN
6. ENJOYING LIFE AGAIN
Today Doug has regained his independence and mobility, but no longer feels the need to tackle life’s challenges on his own. “When I was growing up we didn’t talk about our feelings or emotional struggles, we just toughed it out and got the job done. It was hard to admit I couldn’t do this by myself, but I’m so glad I finally got help because now I can find enjoyment in life again.”
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