Observations Letter from New England

Life after work: a doctor’s lonely hearts club

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g3715 (Published 05 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3715
  1. David Loxterkamp, medical director
  1. 1Seaport Community Health Center, Belfast, Maine 04915, USA
  1. david.loxterkamp{at}gmail.com

Social isolation is a substantial problem among older people, and helping them to overcome it may be as important as support for controlling diabetes or stopping smoking

They shuffle into our cramped conference room this Monday morning, the nine members of the “life after work” group. They have arrived at my invitation (I am not only their doctor but their group facilitator). Today’s theme is “friendship,” and for some of the artists, journalists, teachers, linesmen, and managers in the room, it is in short supply. They have been coming for weeks now to explore what lies over the cliff of retirement, and what is left of them after the hat and coat of their career are hung at the door. What they don’t know is that I have no answers, and that they assuredly do.

Over the years, I have listened to male patients in this blue collar community grumble about troubles at home, boredom, loss of friendship, and the aggravations of ageing. Who, I would ask, did they commiserate with? For most, it was no one. Work …

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