Something I’ve noticed in my BuddyHub journey is how willing some older people can be to open up and tell you what some might consider very personal details about their lives past and present. I like to think of myself as a sympathetic ear so perhaps that has a bearing but I think it’s the power of listening that is at work: the gift of being truly listened to is something we all appreciate and value. If you’re living alone and without significant friends or family around or around often enough, it can be really difficult to be listened to. If you’re truly alone then that is a gift that is almost never received and a key reason why some older lonely people can find themselves visiting their GP rather too often just to have the feeling of being listened to and cared for even just for 10 minutes.
I have been incredibly touched when older people have opened up me. I have heard stories of bereavement and family estrangement that have led to loneliness. I also hear a lot about current health issues and the day to day of what’s going on in people’s lives. It makes me think that if you’re lonely what you need more than anything is someone to have small talk with as well as confide deeper feelings and events in our lives past and present. Being more socially active may be a great aim for lonely older people but it may only provide a set of acquaintances and friends that you may not know well enough or see often enough to really open up to: or the social setting you see each other in may not provide the circumstances for a more intimate chat. BuddyHub is focused on setting up a micro-community around a lonely older person that will hopefully provide the opportunity for plenty of two way small talk and the prospect of a deeper friendship and listening. I always feel very privileged when someone confides in me: listening truly is a reciprocal gift.