Mary B. Young, of The Davis Financial Group: Solo in the time of COVID-19

COVID-19 brings adversity and loss to us all. It might trigger fears that you'll become an isolated elder. But it's also an opportunity to take stock of the resources you already have human connections, knowledge and skills, living arrangements, wellness, wisdom, technology and sense of purpose or could develop as an investment in your future. Among the many lessons we can learn from COVID: Aging on your own doesn't have to mean feeling lonely. For help plan

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"COVID has made me think a lot more about aging alone," a 60-year-old widow told me. Her wife had died six years ago; they had no children. Although she has since found a new partner, she's learned from experience that relationships don't always last — especially as we age. Eventually, she could be single all over again, only this time older. "It's a little scary," she said.

COVID-19 has stripped away whole chunks of "normal" life. What you're left with, especially if you're solo, could be a preview of your future. You can imagine, for example, no longer being able go places, or living in an apartment where you don't know your neighbors, or in a rural area with few community supports.

Living through COVID is a little like a fire drill. It's an annoyance, but it gives you the chance to practice things that might be helpful in a real fire. And, much as a fire drill uncovers vulnerabilities in a building or an emergency plan, COVID-19 shines a harsh light on our vulnerabilities as individuals. For example:

Are we connected enough to other people — extended family, friends, neighbors, professional helpers or advisors — such that we feel safe and supported?

Do we have interests and spend time in ways that we find satisfying and rejuvenating?

Can we devise creative solutions to some of the new challenges that COVID-19 presents?

Do we find purpose and meaning in our days, whether it's by reaching out to see how someone else is coping, tending tomato plants, writing our memoirs or learning to paint?

Do we take note of the good things and express gratitude for what others do?

You probably know people who are floundering during the pandemic and others who are doing just fine. What can you learn from them? What makes one person miserable and another thrive?

I think of an 80-year old who missed his pre-COVID poker dates with friends, so he started playing online with strangers. Before long, he was playing simultaneous games, one after another, all day long, on both his phone and PC. While he still felt isolated, he couldn't stop playing long enough to find other ways to connect with people.

Then I think of a woman who also felt isolated because of the pandemic, until she heard of a local group making masks for those who didn't have them. From fabric scraps and even old clothes, she churned out mask after mask. Fellow sewers posted photos of their creations online. They traded elastic and spools of thread. Daily emails from the group's leader reported a growing army of mask-makers and the many grateful recipients. She felt part of something larger, happy to be serving the greater good.

There is nothing intrinsically better about sewing than playing poker. Another person might have found that solitary stitching made them feel alone and miserable. The trick for each of us is to find the things that we can do — even amid significant deprivations — and that pay us back with satisfaction, sometimes even joy. Eventually, this mask-maker might tire of the activity. Yet hopefully she has new insights about the kinds of pursuits that leave her feeling good at the end of the day.

COVID-19 brings adversity and loss to us all. It might trigger fears that you'll become an isolated elder. But it's also an opportunity to take stock of the resources you already have human connections, knowledge and skills, living arrangements, wellness, wisdom, technology and sense of purpose or could develop as an investment in your future. It might be a daily walk, alone or with a socially distanced friend. Or an online book club, yoga class or study group. Or reaching out to neighbors who could use a friend.

Among the many lessons we can learn from COVID: Aging on your own doesn't have to mean feeling lonely.

Mary Young is the research director for Davis Financial Group. This column appeared first in The Soloist on Sept. 8. To read more columns in the The Soloist, davisfinancialgrp.com/newsletter/the-soloist.

The Davis Financial Group has recently added staff and the capacity to accept new clients, and advisers have been working effectively remotely during the pandemic. The firm is happy to provide free initial consultations to prospective clients to explore the potential fit that might exist between their needs and the group's unique services. To reach the team at Davis, email info@davisfinancialgrp.com, visit their website at davisfinancialgrp.com or call them at 413-584-3098. Securities, investment advisory and financial planning services offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services LLC, member SIPC. Supervisory Office: 330 Whitney Ave., Suite 600, Holyoke, MA 01040, 413-539-2000. The Davis Financial Group LLC is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services LLC. CRN202209-270141


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