As one of SCAN’s Peer Advocates, MaryKay Kubota often talks with members who are struggling to cope
with changes they never expected, like having to adjust to lives without the people, places and purposes
they had known for so long. MaryKay knows all too well what they’re feeling because she has felt it, too.
A few years ago, after decades as a wife, mother and career woman, MaryKay found herself alone, without
a purpose and with too many empty hours in the day.
“One day you’re somebody—busy and feeling valuable, productive and needed—and the next day, you’re not,”
she says. “When all that goes away, you can lose not only what you thought made you valuable but your
identity, as well.”
A recent poll by SCAN suggests that, like MaryKay, many seniors deal with loneliness. Of 1,000 adults age
64 and older interviewed in the August 2017 survey, 82 percent said they know at least one person who is
lonely. This is cause for concern because research also shows that loneliness and isolation can have serious
effects on seniors’ emotional, mental and physical health, such as leading to depression.
Making Connections Matters
Whether it’s face-to-face or online, with other people or animals, with old friends or new ones in the making,
interacting with others seems to be key to breaking through loneliness.
In the SCAN survey, almost half of the seniors said they combat loneliness by either participating in
activities in their communities or volunteering. Even more of them said they stay in touch with their loved
ones by email and on social media, such as Facebook and Instagram.
“The good news is that seniors are seeking out ways to remain engaged with others,” says Romilla Batra, MD,
SCAN’s chief medical officer.
SCAN member Judy Barrie’s “other” is a furry companion
named Coconut. After her children grew up and moved out
on their own, “having someone who needs me, keeps me
company and gives so much unconditional love has been
really helpful,” she says.
For MaryKay Kubota, starting work as a SCAN Peer Advocate
gave her a purpose she had been missing. “I realize now that
I need to be connected and needed,” she says. “Now I am able to stay connected with others, use the skills
that I have learned over all these years and maybe make someone else’s day brighter, too.”
If you’re looking for ways to feel productive and connected, see some suggestions on the next page. And if, like
MaryKay and Judy, you have found your way out of loneliness, we’d love to know how you did it. Please write or
email the SCAN Club editor at the contact information on the back of this newsletter.