‘Living alone can be lonely and boring, but I’ve found ways to get by’

Dec 27, 2019
Robyn lives alone, but there are simple ways she passes the time. Source: Getty Images
The last 12 months have been great for raising the voice of the over-60s community at Starts at 60, something we feel strongly about doing. During the next few weeks we are celebrating the blogs that resonated with readers the most throughout the year. This blog is one of our Top 30 blogs for 2019.

I occasionally catch up with a good friend on Sundays. We go to brunch or (more recently) we play Pokémon Go (she’s taught me how to play, she’s hooked).

I’m an early riser. Regardless of the time I go to sleep, I wake at 5am. I make my breakfast, dietary appropriate for my Type 2 diabetes. As I live alone, on the days when I have nothing planned there are many hours I need to fill.

I get on my computer after breakfast and check emails, then I login to Facebook. The time on my computer keeps me sane and connected to the world. I don’t watch much television, but have both Netflix and Lightbox. I find reading books difficult — I lose my place and find myself reading the same sentences over and over.

One of my favourite things to do is paint. I paint small boxes in various paint finishes and love to see a small brown box turn into a marble masterpiece; it’s very therapeutic and makes me feel like I have achieved something special. I have successfully sold them on Trade Me, helpful when I live my life on a pension. My budget it so tight even $10 can make a difference.

I live in a government-owned housing complex (Housing New Zealand). I am very very lucky to only pay a small amount of rent compared to a couple of my friends who have to pay four times what I do.

I’ve a small group of friends, so my two toy poodles keep me company. I will be totally lost when they are gone. They are both 10 years old and even though they are going strong, they do cost a lot. Vet bills are so expensive. My friend and I have set up a trust account for them in the event something goes wrong.

One of my boys requires eye drops every day. In addition to taking my medication and insulin, I am give him medicine. My pills are the bane of my life; I take about 10 different ones, all difficult to get out of their packets and some quite small I need to be extra careful so as not to drop them.

I live beside a motorway north out of Auckland and I can hear the trucks flying past. It makes me feel not totally cut off from the world.

I see my caregivers at lunch and dinner every day, seven days a week. It’s nice to get to talk to other people, but I also know they are here to do a job and I’m not a friend. I look forward to seeing one or two of them specifically, but mostly they come in, do what they have to do and then leave.

The list of things the caregivers do is far less than what they probably could be doing. I’ve had them do my shopping, my vacuuming, my floors and prep my dinner. One one occasion where the work was finished early, we sat awkwardly talking about a client who had died, leaving a gap in the carer’s schedule. It was depressing. I don’t get any joy hearing about another person’s demise, but I can understand it is the world in which they work.

My story started when I went into hospital for an operation and caught a hospital bug – I came out 10 days later unable to walk properly, feed myself (cook a meal) and could hardly stay awake. I was fit and healthy when I went in, and feel I came out old, decrepit and unable to fend for myself. I got three caregivers from the hospital thanks to the ward social worker who saw I lived alone. When I turned 65 I was given more days and more workers to help me by a larger company. I have been and am very appreciative of their assistance, but I wish I could wake up one morning feeling on top of the world again.

I have given up driving. I am lucky I can call on a Tongan family to assist me if I need help, which is amazing as they are not related to me but treat me with the greatest respect and I am part of their family. I gave my car to their youngest son for his 21st birthday as I was no longer using the it. It was my independence and a way of getting out and about. I used to go dancing, but these days I’m in bed at 6:30pm.

I am estranged from my own two children, which has been hard and depressing. Their main beef is my bi-polar condition, which they think is some kind of contagious disease. It’s been lurking around in our older family (who are now all deceased), so I feel it is genetic. They are high achievers in their respective fields of endeavour and I am so proud of both of them. Would like to see them, but don’t think that will happen any time soon. I send emails every now and then to my daughter and she has replied saying we might ‘liaise’ at some stage. I don’t know what that actually means.

My days are spent pottering about doing small things, filling in my time. It can be lonely and boring, living alone. I like to chat. I try to keep the wine glass half full and keep safe and that’s how I make it through each day.

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Do you live alone? How do you prevent boredom and loneliness?

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