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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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Suicide rates among the elderly in America are rising

Suicide rates among the elderly in America are rising

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide in the USA is on the rise. Of the more than 47,000 suicides that took place in 2017, those 65 and older accounted for more than 8,500 deaths, that’s about one out of every five.

While we might expect suicide rates to be high among teenagers and those facing mid-life crises, it was alarming to me to see how high it was among our senior citizens.

There are many reasons why elderly adults are more susceptible to the nation’s 10th leading cause of death. One big reason is loneliness. Older adults often live in isolation and may be struggling with the death of a lifelong husband, wife or the lost of a close family member or friend. Their families often live far away from home and are not available for personal contact.

I advise these people to get out of the house and get involved with different types of groups. There are church groups, volunteer groups, many nursing homes with other lonely people who are looking for human contact, charitable organizations who need help, self-help groups who meet regularly. Become active and do what you can to help yourself and others.

Aging can also be a difficult time for seniors. Approximately 80% of older adults live with a chronic disease – such as arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure – and 77% have at least two, according to The National Council on Aging. This can be very depressing.

When we realize we are losing some of our abilities, we have to look at the strengths that we still have. I can no long walk much less run the way I could when I was younger. However, I can still sing and write and share ideas with others.

Don’t dwell on what is lost but keep developing what is still there – our God given abilities.

Joseph Addison once said, “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

We talked about something to do. The second part is “something to love” or maybe we should include someone to love.

We can include our loving God who loves us and want us to live together for all eternity. Seniors have more time to spend, not just saying prayers, but talking to God, expressing their hopes and dreams for their loved ones and our world. They can grow in that relationship they might not have had when they were younger. Seniors can keep growing in wisdom, love, joy, and other spiritual gifts.

I think it is important that seniors have a hobby that keeps their minds and bodies moving. Someone once said, “Motion is the lotion.” Don’t give in to the rocking chair. Find something you like and keep moving. Sitting all day can be very depressing and lead to an early death.

The third of Addison’s keys to happiness is “something to hope for.”

In our society we value what people can do, rather than who you are. We do not “sit at the feet” of our elders and learn life lessons from their long experiences. In our throwaway society, seniors often feel useless because they do not “do anything.” Also, the elderly are often the subjects of age list jokes.

The population of the United States is growing older. We expect the elderly population to continue to grow tremendously, with the oldest-old (85 and older) as the fastest-growing sector.

Church groups and other social clubs often have programs for the youth. That’s a good thing. How often to these groups sponsor social activities for seniors besides bingo. The elderly might enjoy card games, arts and crafts, movie nights, holiday parties, interest-based clubs, brain games, exercises, book groups, trivia contests, educational seminars, tech workshops, etc.

Betty Friedan said, “Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”