Welcome to the wonderful future we’ve all been promised, full of liberty, equality, and personal choice.
Baby boomers are aging alone more than any generation in U.S. history, and the resulting loneliness is a looming public health threat. About one in 11 Americans age 50 and older lacks a spouse, partner or living child.
Wow, as it turns out, all the progress, all the technology, all the modernization in the world can’t buy you a loving, committed spouse or a loving, committed child. But at least being by yourself means you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. And that’s what really matters in life: pure, unrestricted choice without the baggage of family holding you down.
Policy makers are concerned this will strain the federal budget and undermine baby boomers’ health.
The lack of social contacts among older adults costs Medicare $6.7 billion a year, mostly from spending on nursing facilities and hospitalization for those who have less of a network to help out, according to a study last year by Harvard University, Stanford University and AARP.
It’s fitting that the reaction of policy makers to this tragedy of human desolation is to worry about how it affects their bottom line. These lonely losers are adding to the national debt! If they die off earlier on average that means less people contributing to the GDP! How will that affect Christmas retail sales? Or back-to-school shopping?!
Along with financial issues including high debt and declining pensions, social factors such as loneliness are another reason boomers are experiencing more difficult retirement years than previous generations.
Where is the welfare state when you need it? Isn’t the whole point of a safety net so that you don’t have to be 80 years-old and working 8 hours a day at a fast-food restaurant to make rent?
“The effect of isolation is extraordinarily powerful,” says Donald Berwick, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “If we want to achieve health for our population, especially vulnerable people, we have to address loneliness.”
The Trump administration is looking at expanding faith-based partnerships to combat isolation among seniors, says U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging Lance Robertson. Earlier this year, the British government appointed its first minister of loneliness to tackle the issue.
We definitely need the federal government to declare a War on Loneliness. Maybe the solution lies in giving the elderly more bingo nights at the senior care centers. Or maybe if the government can just prescribe more anti-depressants. If these old timers are doped up on drugs, they won’t feel the dark abyss of their solitude quite as sharply.
The baby boomers prized individuality and generally had fewer children and ended marriages in greater numbers than previous generations. More than one in four boomers is divorced or never married, census figures show. About one in six lives alone.
Individuality leads to eventual crippling loneliness. Who knew?
Among the most likely to lack close kin are college-educated women and people with little money, says Ashton Verdery, an assistant professor of sociology and demography at Pennsylvania State University.
27% of women were widowed or never married, compared with 16% of men. Women are also less likely to cohabitate and date later in life, research shows.
Life can be so misogynistic sometimes.
I’m not going to try to make a big sweeping claim here (for now) but it is worth asking the question. To what extent is there a trade-off between pursuing a career and building a strong, devoted family that will be able to support you and care for you later in life? Anne-Marie Slaughter and plenty of others have been telling us for years now that “Women Can’t Have It All.” Why isn’t this lesson being repeated in the MSAs/ISoCs, at the masjid youth groups, etc.? Why are so many young Muslim women still being taught that career comes first? The narrative that women pursuing careers is necessary in case “something bad happens” in a marriage is flatly contradicted by these loneliness statistics. Apparently, a successful career isn’t going to mean much for you when you’re 65 years-old and alone (even if it ever meant anything for you).
Gary Grasmick, a 68-year-old retired federal IT worker who lives by himself, was carrying groceries into his Washington, D.C., row house two years ago when he felt his knee give out. Overweight and unable to get up, and with no phone in reach, he lay there for at least two nights as dehydration and a urinary tract infection led to sepsis. His kidneys started shutting down and he grew delirious.
“I heard the mailman come once in a while and I would yell out,” he says. “Nobody heard me.”
Of course, this article doesn’t comment on the obvious. The cause of the loneliness at age 65+ is how people lived their lives in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. The only way to address the loneliness is to address modern life. Human life has to return to what it was before this cancer of modernity and individual-rights-at-all-costs destroyed marriage and destroyed family structure. The wisdom of Islam and its correctives for this disaster are obvious.
- Marriages that actually mean commitment between two people who live according to clearly defined gender roles.
- Maintaining strong ties of kinship, even when it’s “inconvenient” for your career or personal aspirations.
- Respecting and honoring parents, being merciful to them and caring for them, not shipping them off when they start interfering with your Netflix-watching schedule.
- Financially supporting your family, fathers supporting daughters, brothers supporting their sisters with money so they won’t have to rely on strangers if their marriages dissolve.
- Correctly distributing inheritance according to Allah’s commandments.
These are just a handful of Islamic values that directly address the root cause of this epidemic of loneliness and lack of support. This is the Islamic system.
Yet, we have these khabith reformist degenerates who want to bring Islam into the twenty first century. They want to drag Muslims into the depths of misery that the rest of the modern world is suffering from. They want Muslims to become infected with diseases like degeneracy and elderly isolation.
But, we know better. We know that Allah has sent the cure.