WASHINGTON, DC, Oct 3 — There were those who assumed the loneliness of isolation during the COVID pandemic would have a profound negative impact on America’s seniors, particularly among those who live alone. But it seems they underestimated the strength, initiative, and resolve of our elderly citizens.
A study of “already-isolated” seniors conducted by the National Institutes of Health [NIH] found that most of them “used longstanding arrangements, in place to mitigate loneliness and endure social isolation, to manage the social deprivation of COVID-19.” In fact, the NIH found that “to the contrary, loneliness during the pandemic appeared to carry a new valence for interviewees, as COVID-19 imbued their isolation with new meaning, rendering their loneliness necessary and responsible.”
How did they do it? Perhaps the internet and online social media had something to do with it. Take the story of Roz Lewy and Ralph Insinger, both of whom are in their 80s. They live 1,500 miles apart, Ralph in Cambridge, MA, and Roz in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. But they stayed connected via email and the use of their cell phones. “We were both using the computer for years before the pandemic. I do not claim to be computer savvy but use email and Google regularly. Of note, most of my email communications with Ralph were via an iPhone,” says Roz.
They met by chance at the Museum Of Fine Arts in Boston when Roz visited her daughter in Cambridge, MA. Roz went home to Florida the next day but not before they exchanged contact info. It was the start of a blossoming romance via the internet. Their story is “an extraordinary second-chance and real-life love story told through months of rich email letters that document a common bond of incomparable coincidence, charm, wisdom, and wit,” according to the publisher of the book they wrote together called, “Beyond Beyond: A Chance Encounter, a Digital Courtship, and the Language of Love.”
The cyberspace courtship of Roz and Ralph reached new heights when he composed and emailed her a bit of inspired poetry:
Deep thoughts constantly engulf my mind,
Inclined to expression of ideals I must fulfill.
Layered one on one, beyond all measure of mankind,
Your presence in my life keeps me decidedly tranquil.
Roz responded: “I read your poem and how meaningful it is to me to think that I can fulfill a need for you that gives you strength. The depth of your introspection that leads you positively to your truer self is admirable … You honor me with your words that touch my heart.”
Their online romance is a compelling story about two people who met in person, decided to keep in touch and wound up as soulmates. But keep in mind, that cyberspace can be a dangerous place to be if you are not careful.
The Pew Research Center suggests that the numbers of elderly technology users continues to grow “markedly.” Pew’s surveys show that “75% of those 65 and older report being internet users.” If you are a newcomer to the use of technology the experts will tell you that it is a good idea to take precautions when you surf the internet.
They will tell you that it’s particularly important for seniors who may be new to the use of computers, cell phones and the internet to take the time to know how to stay safe online. Online security websites such as The Senior’s Guide to Online Safety and those you will find by Googling “how seniors can stay safe on the internet” can make you cyber-smart from the get go. Whether you bought your computer to keep in touch with family members and persons you know or to make new friends, staying safe is the first lesson to learn as you get started using it.