We celebrated the spring holidays with family, Sitting together in the sunshine after a joyous celebratory brunch, the family’s young adults chatted about the young adult/scifi books they had recently read and enjoyed. I contributed the name of a young adult/scifi author I had recently read. My beloved young family members looked at me, then without comment, returned to their conversation. I felt invisible. As Emily Dickinson said in one of my favorite poems “I am a nobody; are you a nobody, too?”
My friends tell me this happens to them. One couple I know were guests of their children and grandchildren for a week, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the couple. “It was nice to see the children and grandchildren getting along, but we realized that there no place for us. We came home several days early” said my friend when I asked about the family time.
Social isolation of the elderly is a national problem. From the CDC: A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) points out that more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. I am lucky to live in a senior community, where we strive to communicate and listen to one another with patience. We elders contribute to our social isolation with our hearing and vision issues, slowed information processing, a preference for what has been, and deficiencies in technical expertise. And maybe we, too, suffer from ageism and don’t expect to be welcomed in the discussions of the younger folk.
I can’t help wondering if this is a reason that poor Joe Biden just can’t earn the approval of millennials?