Friday, 31 October 2008

All alone, alone

There are many aged persons who are having to face a life alone. Increasing numbers of couples who swore to stay together 'until death us do part' are going through the divorce process. Fear of what is outside the door keeps many inside. With the shorter marriages and longer lives, more elderly people than ever are living alone, and a new report by Help the Aged suggests over one million them say they often or always feel lonely. For Pat Higgs, a 70-year-old pensioner from Hornchurch in Essex, what she fears most is that she will die and no-one will notice. "Some days I could just sit here and cry," she says, her voice breaking. " I'm terrified that one of these days I'm going to die and they're not going to find me for a week or so."

The reality for Mrs Higgs is that she spends much of her time virtually housebound within a world shrunk by her disabilities. "It's lonely and it's a lot of responsibility as well, because you have all the things to do to maintain your home, and when you're getting old, you can't even change a light bulb, and that's when you feel at risk," she says. And like many people in her position she is reluctant to be a burden on those around her, even on her own children. She says she talks on the phone with friends and family "now and again", but adds: "They're all busy, who wants to pour gloom on other people's lives?"

Amy Swan of Help the Aged said: "A lot of people lose confidence. Some of them say the only person they see is the postman popping round. It's very sad when you hear from somebody who literally has not been out of their house for a week, two weeks, a month even. Can you really imagine having that life? Trapped inside with nowhere to go?" Ms Swan added that there are projects run by Help the Aged and other organisations that reach out to old people living alone, but she also says there have been fundamental "changes to how our society works".Mrs Higgs has felt those changes for herself. "Everybody's busy trying to earn a living, even more so than when I was young, The world has just got smaller now, but people have got further away."

All the trials and tribulations of a long life. The struggles to stay afloat and do the right thing. And this is how it all ends.

No comments:

Post a Comment