Now what?

Bonnie,  Almost 69

I will be 69 in a couple of weeks. I’m already thinking about 70. We moved to Montana 16 years ago. Live in a rural area. Therefore I haven’t made too many friends especially in my age group. My very best friends of many years live in another state. I miss them terribly.
They are busy traveling being with their grandchildren….

My husband is 7 years older. He is still working and healthy. My mother passed 8 years ago. I don’t know what to expect in my up coming days. Not a lot of opportunities around for me. My small town living is not what I expected since I’m a newbie even after 16 years. My drive to the city is over an hour.
I’ve felt it difficult to build friendships. I try to spend my time quilting and reading, I’m not able to maintain a garden anymore. I’ve worked very hard out here and now my body does not hold up as well. My Grandkids live out of state they don’t keep in touch as much they’ve
Grown up. I don’t know how I’m suppose to feel, what I should be doing? I feel somewhat lost.
Everyone around me is busy. I try not to think about how active I use to be and I could go anywhere and do anything and making new friends was easy. My husband is very tired when he gets home…I don’t want bother him to go anywhere. I just joined a bible study that will end for the season.  Now what?

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6 Responses to Now what?

  1. Dawn nearly 68 says:

    Bonnie, we live on an island & I share many of your concerns. We live about 25 miles from the nearest big town (~40,000 people in two adjacent towns). People have shared some great tips here. Here are some things I’ve found helpful. I too have found having even just one friend here on the island has made a difference for me. We go to coffee once a week & plan to go to a movie once a week too. I volunteered at our local library & loved it but I’m taking a break from that obligation so I can participate in a beginning ukulele class at a senior center 45 miles (one-way) from our home. It’s great fun–lots of friendly people & fun songs to learn & sing along to. I think/hope I’m building some new neural pathways too.

    My husband is also retired but he’s more of a home-body than me. He encourages me to visit my Mom, children & grandchildren, none of whom live nearby. I would love to travel (Road Scholar trips, especially) but he hates to fly. So one of these days I’m just going to pick a trip & go!

    As you can tell, I believe we have to make things happen for ourselves. Find a quilting group or class at your local quilt shop. Join a book group–it’s very likely that your local library will have one that’s perfect for you. Check out your local senior center–there are likely more things to do there than you have time for. Don’t count the miles or the time spent traveling to & from–the friendship, camaraderie & joy of being in a community of like-minded people will be worth every mile. Happy trails!

  2. Margaret Barrett says:

    Now I don’t feel so different. Thank you for writing about your experiences. We moved 20yrs ago and I still have no friends in our town. My adult children and their families live 2 states away so I do miss interacting with them more frequently. I must force myself to get out and meet people. We have a senior center in town so perhaps I should drop in sometime. Unfortunately my health eliminates any kind of ongoing volunteer commitment. I do enjoy hearing other’s experiences. Oh, by the way I’m 74. Amazed that I’ve reached that age!

    • Blog Mavens says:

      Yes, it’s a great idea to stop in to visit your local senior center. Here in the Dallas area such places welcome anyone 50 and older, so there’s a wide range of ages and interests. I’ve found them to be much like summer camps; lively places with lots available to do. Exercise, dances, music, art, crafts, card games, MahJong, classes and lectures on endless topics, travel, volunteering, you name it. I’d love to learn if this is true everywhere. Social connections there are remarkable. When you do go, please let us know what you find.

  3. Regine Haensel says:

    I agree with Ellen, no matter how hard, it’s important to get out and meet people. Everyone has different levels of needs in regards to balancing alone time and people time. Personally, I need a lot of alone time, but I also need people time. So I’m part of a book club, a writing group, and informally I have friends that I go for coffee, to movies, etc. with. Facebook is important for me also. I recently joined a tai chi group for 3 months. Have stopped that for now because of other needs, but there are things out there for us to do! Or at home – creative arts are very satisfying (writing, drawing, flower arranging, gardening, singing, etc.).


    I feel very much the same way. I am divorced but have a male friend. We each have our own houses, but he lives less than a mile from me. I didn’t have children so there is no one to check in on me. My only sibling lives in Tennessee. We talk every day.

    Something is missing in my life. I just keep thinking “is this all there is”. If I don’t stay busy I get antsy. I’ve volunteered at a Hospital in the past but it’s get more and more difficult to have the energy. I do, however, help my friend a lot with his house work, yard work, etc. I just always need to be doing something for someone else or I feel like I’m wasting my life.

  5. Ellen says:

    Dear Bonnie,
    Your email struck a chord in me–for three reasons. (1) I moved at age 69, from Alaska to upstate NY. It’s hard starting all over again, at pretty much any age, perhaps, but especially in mid or later adulthood. (2) I lived in rural Vermont for 25 years, and even though I raised my children there, and so on and so on, it wasn’t the same as being a second or third or 7th generation Vermonter. (3) I know from the research I’ve been doing for the past five years, and from my own 75 years of life experience, that “other people matter.” “There is no such thing as a happy hermit.” (Those are quotes from one of my favorite psychologists, Chris Peterson, who died in 2009.) So you know what you need to do, even though it’s been hard so far. You need to find friends, acquaintances, people to connect with, even a single pal. Are there volunteer opportunities? Can you start a bookgroup, or a knitting circle? Is there an old-age home you can visit, or a senior center? It might be well worth the hour drive once a week, and it could enhance your life beyond measure. Please remember that your age-mates need others just as much as you. (For some reason I’m picturing you writing an article in the local paper announcing a get-together of some sort. Is that a crazy idea?) Good luck to you, and thank you for writing to 70Candles.

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