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Terry McAteer: Retired males are dealing with loneliness and depression

Terry McAteer
Terry McAteer

I was chatting with a couple of elderly blokes recently in a pub in Waterford, Ireland.

They were describing their development of a “Man Shed” solely designed as a place where retired men in a community could come to chat and have camaraderie with other male senior citizens. The model was taken from Australia which has developed a nationwide system of “sheds” to help address the problem of male depression and loneliness during their senior years.

As my newfound friend John noted, “Women talk face to face while men talk shoulder to shoulder.” John is describing the problem that many male senior citizens have few friends that they can really speak frankly with, unlike women, and therefore exist in a depressed and lonely world. It got me thinking about a few of my males friends who have retired from high powered jobs who now find themselves adrift in the world and relegated to “honey-do” projects and/or couch potato status.

Therefore, I concluded, Nevada County with its high senior population, must have scores of lonely and depressed males who are just communicating “shoulder to shoulder” with their wives, friends and family. Therefore, this column is a shout-out to wives and friends (especially male friends) to reach out to your fellow male friend that fit this scenario and perform a “face-to-face” intervention. Males are really tough to externally crack but internally many are broken. They need some tough love in order to open up and communicate their pain.

These men also need a path to feel less lonely and more interactive with others, so you need some constructive avenues for solutions. There are scores of opportunities for men (women too!) to be involved, regain their sense of purpose and add a bit of breadth and depth to their world such as …

Osher Learning — My favorite activity is taking short term, non-graded classes, designed for seniors at our local Sierra College Campus. Take a literature, history or political science class! The instructors are superb and all classes are very reasonable. Contact Shari at 916-781-6290 or to see the class schedule Google: OLLI Sierra College

Art — It is wonderful to explore your creative side of clay sculpting, painting (water and oil), jewelry making, printmaking or photography at the local ASIF Art studio in Grass Valley. They offer scores of classes for beginners and proficient artists at 274-7000 or asifstudios.com

Kiwanis — Kiwanis is one of many local service clubs that welcome retirees to weekly luncheons at Kane’s and service projects that assist our local youth. They provide camaraderie and fellowship. Give them a call at 210-7717 or goldcountrykiwanis.org

Habitat for Humanity — A great outlet for those “honey-do” project experts to get involved in a larger “honey-do” project — building homes for low income families. Male bonding is also sure to happen. Phone them at 274-1951 or nchabitat.org

School volunteer — My 76-year-old brother in San Francisco was suffering “shoulder to shoulder” syndrome so I intervened by calling his local public school. He now volunteers twice a week reading to second graders and loves it! Our local public schools would love your assistance … just give them a call.

Gardening — Expand and share your gardening expertise by becoming a Nevada County Master Gardener. A new session begins January 2019. Also check out the weekly gardening classes offered by them at ncmg.ucanr.org or Peaceful Valley Farm Supply at grow organic.com

Book club — Check with your local public librarian or a local book seller to find out about book clubs that are looking for new members. This is a perfect way to provide social settings for active readers.

Cooking classes — Maybe your man is a great cook or a wanna-be chef? Fabulous cooking classes are offered for all levels of expertise by Briarpatch Co-op at briarpatch.coop or 272-5333 x134 or at Tess’ Kitchen on Mill Street tesskitchenstore.com or 273-6997

Senior center — How about bingo, yoga or dance classes, pinochle games, etc? Gold Country Services is a great outlet for senior services. Check them out at: goldcountryservices.org

Counseling — Many of these retired males may be needing more than a nudge but actual one-on-one counseling. Nevada County has many fine counselors who will deal with loneliness and depression issues at hand. Don’t wait to seek professional assistance as mental health issues are often deeper than a loved one or caregivers can solve.

One Irish/Gaelic word sums up my hope for my male friends, “Slainte” (pronounced Slan che) — “To your good health.”

Terry McAteer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His views are his own and do not represent the views of The Union or its editorial board members. Contact him at EditBoard@TheUnion.com


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