• Few or No Friends

Home Alone & Lonely? Some Practical Tips

Published: February 24, 2012 | Last Updated: August 1, 2013 By | 79 Replies Continue Reading

What resources are there for people who are home alone and lonely, without any family or friends?


Dear Irene,

I am 63. My husband brought me here many years ago. It is rural and here, family is everything—which is nice—but I have none. My life from the beginning was similar to a child in an orphanage. I was cared for by someone I guess but never had any modeling for family. There was no love, no touching, no hugging and no intimacy.

I became my own parent by the time I was five years old. I could not, cannot develop relationships but worked all my life and working kept me from being totally isolated. However, now, I no longer work and have severe arthritis that pretty much limits me to my apartment. I read and find things to do but it is getting pretty hard.

The thing is that I cannot locate any type of support system for seniors who have no one. I know I am not the only person like this. I would love to return to Massachusetts where there is a little less emphasis on couples. It bothers me that, for example, an Area Agency on Aging, talks about all sorts of things but the depression, the loneliness, the sense of a life forgotten for people who don’t have the requisite husband, sister, grandchildren etc.

Why is this not dealt with? Or perhaps I am looking in the wrong places. One of my most hated answers to any psychological issue is “Stay close to your friends and family etc.” Another recent major annoyance is at a hospital or doctor’s office when they ask you for next of kin and I say I have none, they argue with me. Well you must have a friend then. No I do not. They actually get mad at me.

Is there a resource anywhere for those of us for whatever reason have no family and could not establish friendships but who are getting old and scared and spend weeks at a time alone.

Signed, Leah


Dear Leah,

For a variety of reasons, it sounds like you are in a very lonely and isolating situation. You must be a remarkably resilient woman to be able to take care of yourself to the extent you do.

Since I don’t know the particular community where you live, I can only make a few generic suggestions to help you connect with others:

1) Does your town or a larger city nearby have a program for seniors? Sometimes there are outreach programs that provide emotional and logistical support for homebound seniors.

2) Can you get any help from the Arthritis Foundation? Do they offer any in-person or online support groups?

3) Are any programs or services available from religious groups in your community—even if you aren’t of the same religion?

4) Can you call your state office overseeing the Area Agency on Aging to inquire about resources that may be available to you?

5) Can you reconnect, even if it’s only occasionally with colleagues from work or friends from where you lived in Massachusetts?

6) Since you found this blog, are you taking advantage of the internet as a way to connect with other people?

7) Is there any chance of your moving back to Massachusetts while you are still a relatively young senior?

8) Would you have any interest in finding out about a co-living situation where you might be able to live with another unrelated adult for mutual support? I realize this isn’t easy to
orchestrate and would require a thorough background check.

9) Since telecommuting is becoming increasingly common, is there any kind of part-time work you can do from home?

I hope that one or two of these ideas may be helpful and that other posters will chime in with any suggestions I’ve missed. Be assured, your situation is not unusual. There are many people in similar situations, many of whom visit this blog. I hope you’ll continue to post and exchange here because I know you can be helpful and sensitive to others in similar circumstances.

Warm regards, Irene

Some prior posts on The Friendship Blog that may be worth reading: 

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  1. Summer says:

    I live alone, I have no husband, no children, relations, both parents dead, I am 66 yrs old, I do not have one friend in the world, no car, feeling so lonely, alone, I cry almost every hour or more, I sleep a lot, but not actually asleep just on my couch, I fall sleep for a hour then up again, I do not have much of an appetite, I cannot believe I got like this, I live in a rent apartment, I am on disability pension, I think why get up what do I have to do, I make lists of what I will or could do, but doing them alone is no fun, i am not a group person I am more of a one to one person, Then as it gets darker I take the rubbish out or check the mail, or go to the milk bar, but do not speak just write what I want or need, I feel like there is no use in life, but I still get up and feel I am being trapped, I know the sun is out, I know their are things to do but I am not interest in doing them, like interests which I do not have many of them, I have tried lots and lots of things but I feel not made of the group of class sorry if I have bored you cheers a lll the best to you all out there. ps I will they had a service for people like me that is afraid to go outside to come and visit for an hour or two, I do not speak to anyone their is no one to speak to. all the best to you all

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing this information. What you have in Norway sounds wonderful, for the volunteer and the other party. I have not found a “visiting service” in the American Red Cross, but shall continue to look. You have inspired me. Thank you again.

    • Yes, the modern day disease! I sometimes dont talk to a person for days, and when I do open my mouth, in a shop, my voice is gone as all communication is online. God, I would die without internet and tv. Why are there no meeting hubs where age doesn’t matter? Some people are old before their time and restless ones don’t seem to feel or look old. Its mentioned here about places to contact, but it is referring to USA, Any tips for Europe? I live in Austria, can’t ski, hate the cold and too old to immigrate Anywhere Else! I ve lost my mood for living! I have beautiful at clothes, but Where to wear it? What should I do with all my stuff, I started giving away clothing to winos and beggars to be rid of it, books , ,crockery, kitchen stuff as well. I don’t know if, im going nuts, being practical or tenacious.
      Is this where the train stops

  3. Irene says:

    Thanks so much for posting. In my own town, we have a program for seniors called "Are You Okay?"—volunteers check on people daily—It provides some contact for those who are totally isolated.

    Best, Irene 

  4. Anonymous says:

    I live in Norway and work as a volunteer for the Red Cross visiting Service. The service makes life easier for people who have a need for more social contact.

    I don’t know if they have the same service in the states, but I encourage you to contact your LOCAL red cross, to see if they have something to offer you. Perhaps you will find something you can volunteer for yourself!?

    Let me explain how things work here. First of all, The Visiting Service is the largest care activity in the Red Cross, Norway. For over 60 years, it has been a support for people who for various reasons do not have much contact with others as they would like. The goal of the visiting service is to work for greater social inclusion.

    Around the country there are thousands of volunteers visiting people both in private homes and institutions. The ”Visiting friend” and participant decide what they will do and how often they meet. It can vary from a walk to other social activities – or just drink coffee and talk.

    The target group are people of all ages who feel lonely and need for social contact. Loneliness knows no age and there are many lonely among both older and younger.

    To be a ”visiting friend” one must be over 18, take the pledge of secrecy and conduct mandatory training.


    I hope you take the step to do some research. It might be difficult at first, but it could change your life. I don’t think you have anything to lose. Good luck!


  5. Anonymous says:

    FYI: Warm weather does not necessarily help arthritis feel better for some people. That’s a myth.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Barb, you have turned the other cheek and are seeing the best despite the nay sayers. You’re an inspiration. Thank you. You’re right that maybe Leah will take comfort in the concern shown for her here. That’s what matters.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Equating Barb’s simple act of kindness to the “life savers” in your various scenarios is a ludicrous stretch. Apples and oranges. And pointless ON A BLOG ABOUT PEOPLE WHO ARE ACHING WITH LONELINESS. To go further and say that Barb “has got the attention she needed so she is happy” is damn cruel. Period. Barb, ignore this crap. You meant well, some of us get that.

    • greta says:

      I DO want to be ALONE!

      I am Not a cold person.
      I read this story yesterday in the paper…

      A japanese man’s wife died, and he threw her ashes down the toilet at the supermarket downtown.
      He says, he was so happy she was gone 68 years old) his life was hell from beginning till when she died.. and he could now be alone at last!
      Sorry…I found this….

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think people get ‘band-wagon’ syndrome.

    They want to feel important, they seek praise and gratitude …. sometimes, when we have nothing to offer, it’s better to accept that, rather than seek attention.

    If I am drowning, and can’t swim, and you are a good swimmer, with the ability to save me, please dive in and do it. It you can’t swim don’t dive in just because ‘you mean well’ and want to be a hero, you will just add to the problem.

    If there is a life-saver there, step aside, get on with your day and leave them to help, if not call for people to help me who has something useful to offer.

    If you can’t swim, there is no-one else there, there is no-one to call and no other means of useful assistance …… then I will drown ….

    A friend of mine (years ago) husband was a doctor, from time to time there were calls ‘is there a doctor in the house’ he wasn’t an attention, glory seeker type, so he used to wait and see if he was needed, if he was of course he offered help, however, often there was a stampede of medical people rushing to glory so he quietly moved on with his day.

    I am sure we are all familiar with the phenomenon of the fire fighter (often a volunteer) who starts fires so they can be the first on the scene, hailed as the hero who fought the fire.

    Anyway Barb has got the attention she needed so she is happy.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so very much guys for understanding …that I used humor to make contact with a person that I felt is so very along in this world. If anything maybe I brought a smile to her face…I was trying so hard to reach out, help out, giving of myself…that is all I got is to try my very best to give a helping hand , to someone who is calling out for help. I hope leah take comfort in our concern for her, and I thank you all again for your kindness toward me and truly understanding my motives, just trying to help a person in need.
    You guys are the best.,

  10. Anonymous says:

    Bravo to “two way street” and “meaning well”

  11. Anonymous says:

    you’ll be called an upperclass snob if you don’t go to a church, any church, even if you don’t believe

  12. Anonymous says:

    If Leah doesn’t like the overture made to her, she can choose to ignore it. That’s her call, not yours. Why rain on it. Friendships start out as overtures made in good will and grow over time.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The overture made to Leah was a kindness, a reaching out. Overanalyzing it and making fun, calling it psycho babble, well, that’s rather cold isn’t it? The overture wasn’t made to YOU, so why rain on the parade?

  14. Anonymous says:

    I suppose I should add friendship is a two way street, your approach may not be welcome.

    Many of us will have the experience of offering to be a ‘friend’ to find we had nothing to offer that the other person was looking for and our offer was rejected.

    ‘Friend’ is an overused and misused word, you are not someones friend just because you say you are.

  15. Anonymous says:

    To be a ‘friend’, in the sense I understand it, you have to get to know someone on a personal level. We cannot tell a stranger we have never met we are their ‘friend’.

    You may be in a position to meet, find you get along, and over time become friends. So why not invite your potential ‘friend’ out for lunch and see how you go.

    The chances are you will live to far away from each other for that to be viable, you could invite your ‘friend’ to stay with you for a 2 week holiday, but with health and financial realitires that may not be viable, OK you could book into a hotel near your ‘friend’ and visit, there is a chance you will like each other and become friends – what are the odds I wonder…..

    My point is, it’s not that easy, it’s all very well to say ‘I’ll be your friend’ and, I daresay that makes you feel good, but really what practical use is it to the people you say it to.

    ‘…. put this out into the universe …’ what does that mean exactly, sounds like white noise, psycho-babble to me.

  16. Anonymous says:

    It is okey dokey to not like any church. Ditto to doing things you like.

  17. Anonymous says:

    My arthritis is capricious with regard to weather. I can have a horrible time in warm weather as well as in cold. Can’t predict if the day will be good or not. –Cookie

  18. Anonymous says:


  19. Anonymous says:

    Hi Leah:
    I found this on the Internet and don’t know a thing about it, but check out the site and see if anyplace is near you:


    If not, maybe they can tell of places that are near you.
    Good luck to you, Leah. Please come back to Irene’s blog and let us know how you are. Many of us are in your shoes and it is no fun. Take care.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I tried a UU church a few times. People nice enough I guess but the topics just not for me at all. Couldn’t fake my way through the conversations since they centered on topics I wasn’t at all interested in.

  21. Anonymous says:

    leah you do have a friend its me, I’m a 60 year old women that understand every word that lol is coming out of your mouth my name is Barb, this is my email address [email protected] You truly do have a friend… so lol lol take a deep breath, and email your friend. come on you can do it! lol if I can put this out in the universe, I know you can too.

  22. Anonymous says:

    …. oh come on …

    If it looks like a church, says it’s a church, acts like a church – it’s a church. I have come across this type of disingenuous approach many times, ‘it’s not really a church’ ‘it’s not really prayer’ etc.

    If you want a church there are plenty in the religion supermarket to choose from – that is your decision, but please don’t suggest it’s suitable for those who do not believe in the supernatural.

    Equally if you want to believe in psychics, tarot cards, spoon bending …. go for it, all these groups take advantage of the lonely and vulnerable, as do on-line dating scams.

    The world is full of lonely, single, middle aged women (the man drought kicks in around age 34) people want to believe, which I can understand but don’t allow yourself to be conned. Sometimes we have to accept reality.

  23. Anonymous says:

    YES YES YES, to paragraphs 2-5. As for the F&F words,at my new temp job I brought a photo of a generic group I cut out from a magazine and framed–could be family, could be friends,, complete with lots of teeth, and a dog, and plopped it on my desk. There ya go, folks! Those are my F&F’s. Don’t know what I”ll say when someone asks me who those people are. Maybe by then I’ll be at another temp job. It’s my way of laughing at my situation sometimes. I love the idea of making up a name for that horrid “next of kin” line on forms. Your hospital experience is ridiculous.

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