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My Perspective - Life-changing power of companionship

By Jim Palmer


One thing that I have noticed over the years in my role at Senior Perspective is not everyone enjoys their retirement years like they thought they would. While some are living their dream retirements, others experience something much different than what they thought they would. Through my job, I have visited with a lot of people in many different communities who are thriving or struggling in their retirement years. For those struggling, the words that most often come up are “isolation,” “boredom” and “loneliness.”  


The Institute on Aging (ioaging.org) website devotes a section on the importance of companionship for seniors and how loneliness and isolation can creep in as we age. 


The article stated, “We almost take it for granted that as our loved ones or ourselves age they’ll get more isolated. They’ll have fewer friends. The ones they have will move or take ill or die, and their social circle will cinch up. The problem is that because we assume these things to be true, we don’t take action when they come to pass. And then the cycle is perpetuated until we believe that isolation is a natural part of aging. It isn’t.”


It went on to say that companionship for seniors is incredibly important, stressing that companionship is “as important as it is for anyone at any stage of their lives.”


The article listed several benefits of companionship including better mental and physical health, and boiled it down by saying that companionship “just makes life better.”


“Companionship is good for all older adults,” the article continued. “Don’t believe that growing old means being alone. Life is still a vibrant journey, and friendships can continue to bring happiness.”


About 4-5 months ago, I put out a call to our readers, asking them to share their companionship stories. Although companionship can be a close friend, a pet or a good neighbor, the focus of my “call out” was for people who have found love in their golden years. We received a good response and are going to share these stories with you this month. 


Of course, not everyone is looking for a new spouse, and some have no interest in ever dating again. And that is OK. The objective of these stories is twofold -- one, to share some uplifting stories with our readers on people who have found love; and two, to possibly inspire and encourage those who may be getting lonely, isolated or depressed to get out and form some new connections, friendships and relationships.  


As you will read in the stories, these new relationships don’t really happen if one or both are at home watching TV. New companions often find each other doing something... like playing bingo, attending a Bible study, going on a mission trip, or volunteering at the local community theater. Sometimes they are looking for love, and other times it just happens naturally, and unexpected. But in each of the stories, you can feel how these relationships brought more enjoyment to their lives. 


Because of the number of submissions and the length of some of the stories, I am not able to print all of them in all the editions. Instead, I have published two or three stories in each edition and I’m including a summary of all the stories at the end of this column. If you would like to read the stories not included in this edition, they will all be published on our web page (srperspective.com).


Thanks for all those who submitted stories. We hope you enjoy reading them.


Nash & Amy Knopps of Starbuck 

A little unexpected, but Nash was Amy’s third husband. From “lonely and bored” to dancing with joy, literally. Apparently the third time is a charm, as Nash showed Amy a different perspective of being married and feeling appreciated.


Darrell & Eileen Boone of Wabash, Indiana 

(with a connection to Glenwood, Minn.)

The right place at the right time on a trip overseas brought Darrell and Eileen together. They were both perfectly content, happy and definitely not looking to date. This traveling duo now lives life together, and it often feels like they are 40 years younger.


Rodney & Carol Venberg of Fergus Falls

A lot of pain and grief brought Rodney and Carol together to support and care for one another. And a phone call set the wheels in motion for companionship and a memorable trip together. Was this a case of coincidental chance happening or were the angels divinely interfering?


Bruce & Elaine Haala of New Ulm 

It took a little stalking, but this cute couple went out for coffee and eventually ended up at the courthouse for a marriage license. Getting married was an opportunity Bruce and Elaine were glad they didn’t miss.


Marty & Judy Tracy of Hector 

Fellow church goers, Marty and Judy, began slowly with a ride home and a dinner date after meeting at Senior Meals. Despite minor challenges, the couple grew to share expenses, laundry and meal prep, but also travel, new experiences and many blessings. And it all started with a prayer.


Harry & Carol Lambrecht of Milaca 

Next door neighbors and great friends, Harry and Carol, found companionship with one another after both losing their spouses. They both had been caregivers for family members. After getting married, the couple made the decision to travel until their health or money ran out.


Ralph Revier & Dori Steenblock of Redwood Falls

With God as their guide, a chance meeting at church had Ralph and Dori spending a lot more time together. They stick together and care for one another, despite not having a “love” label, and still reside in their separate homes. Their advice: “Don’t be afraid... let God be your guide.”


To read more on all these “Love in the golden years” stories, visit www.srperspective.com.


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