by Shauna Dorko, Sidney SeniorCare –
As we approach Father’s Day this month, it’s time to turn our attention to the men in our lives, whether they are fathers or not. As the less vocal of the two sexes, it can be hard to determine how men are really feeling.
Athough both senior men and women can be prone to feelings of isolation and loneliness, men are often more private about their feelings; their quiet stoicism, conditioned by societal expectations, can lead to depression and profound sadness before a concerned family member or friend even notices.
The senior men of today were typically raised to be the “hunters” and “breadwinners” of society, part of a more traditional generation where males were often the main providers and protectors of the household. With such expectations put upon them, it is no wonder that many older men have trouble relinquishing this primary role and retiring to a less demanding lifestyle. Their sense of purpose and value can be shaken as their role in society changes.
Seniors are one of the most vulnerable demographic when it comes to suicide – over 10 seniors die by suicide every week in Canada. Of that demographic, senior men over the age of 65 are at the most risk.
Despite these sobering statistics, there is much that can be done to support men in their senior years. Helping older men to gently transition into retirement can reduce the “shock” of such an extreme lifestyle adjustment – a redirection of energy and focus from the workplace into a hobby or leisure activity can be a wonderfully positive way for retired men to segue into the next chapter of their lives.
Studies show that pursuing hobbies, and in particular group-based leisure activities, may be even more beneficial to men than their female counterparts when it comes to feelings of self worth, fulfillment and overall happiness. Whether joining an antique car club, swinging those long-neglected golf clubs or setting up weekly poker games, engaging with others while pursuing common interests benefits men’s mental, emotional and social wellness tremendously.
So, how can you brighten a senior man’s day on Father’s Day (and any other day of the year, for that matter …)? Start with a phone call or preferably a visit. Although senior men may appear outwardly self-reliant, and be less apt than senior women to search out companionship, that doesn’t mean they enjoy it any less! Take in a car show together, head out to the driving range, or simply enjoy lunch at his favourite burger joint … and make it part of your regular routine. The benefits for both of you will be well worth the effort!
Written in collaboration with Sherrin Griffin. We welcome all comments, suggestions and ideas for future columns. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Seniors” in the subject line.