Impact of Loneliness in Men Over 60 - Life or Death?
Our cultural stereotype of older men offers a sharp contrast to the emotional reality of loneliness. We focus on “socially desirable” messages such as retired men playing golf, fishing, or acting as the patriarch of family events. However, for many older men loneliness is a chronic problem, and for a large number it is a recent (since retirement) experience. Loneliness is multi-causal and multi-dimensional with large individual, relational, cultural, and value differences.
To provide perspective, it is important to note that the majority of men do thrive with aging and retirement. However, a significant number-as many as 30%-“crash and burn.” This involves high levels of anxiety and depression, alcohol or drug abuse, and greater risk of suicide attempts and completion (McCarthy B, McCarthy E. “Therapy with Men after Sixty.” New York: Routledge; 2014). One of the best predictors of major problems is when a man stops being sexual. This does not just mean stopping intercourse, but avoiding any type of sensual or sexual touch, including affectionate touch.