‘You Are Not Alone,’ an excerpt from, Now What? A Guide to the Gifts and Challenges of Aging

Connecting in healthy ways with our community

Here is an excerpt from the book’s first chapter, emphasizing the central theme that regular, meaningful connection with other people is an essential ‘social determinant of health’ as we age. The book’s first chapter begins with these words …


In four words, the message of this book is: You are not alone.

Click on the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

Everyone from popes to pop musicians keep repeating those four words because isolation and exclusion are the two greatest threats to our health and well-being. In the pages of this book, you will learn dozens of ways people around us can help—if we reach out and welcome that assistance.

This message is no surprise after the many months of isolation in the COVID-19 pandemic. As we all recall, at the start of this global crisis, we hoped we would only need to stay in our homes for a few weeks. At first, many of us felt a bit of relief and perhaps excitement that the busyness of our lives would be replaced by some quiet time at home. Social engagements would not be honored, many of us would be working from home, our calendars were freeing up. We would all be hunkering down for a while, often with loved ones at home.

Then days rolled into weeks—and weeks into months. We longed for the ability to come and go as we pleased—to get our hair cut, to return to our houses of worship, to hug our friends and family. We moved from being alone to being lonely; from being socially isolated to feeling socially excluded. Our mental health was impacted not only by the anxiety and fear that come from living through a pandemic, but also by our lack of human connection.

A moment’s reflection will allow us to translate our personal experiences during that time of self isolation to the experiences of our aging friends, family members and neighbors.

For those who are beginning to experience some aging-related limitations, the slip into times of isolation and periods of loneliness may not have occurred as abruptly as the restrictions resulting from the pandemic. But the aging process often leads to a seemingly endless struggle with isolation and exclusion—a process that can deepen into a dangerous lack of emotional, physical and spiritual resources that can last not only for months, but for many years.

Because this book takes a strengths-based, positive approach to these challenges, the chapters offer many tips and suggestions to help individuals and families thrive and enjoy life. The book is also available immediately on Kindle.

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