The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The ties that bind go on-line

Seniors use the Internet to stay in touch and develop new relationships

Without family and friends, who are we? Our children are the centerpiece of our lives. From their first steps on into adulthood, their company provides purpose and dimension to our existence. And as we age, many feel the heartbreak that follows when children and grandchildren move to a distant city. It seems that friends and neighbors, too, are moving out of neighborhoods and out of our lives.

America is a nation in migration — with workers relocating to keep their jobs or find new ones. The movement of millions of families is not a new phenomenon, but today it seems a permanent part of a large-scale economic redesign.

The separation from family and friends may be more painful to seniors than for other age groups, according to Henry Miller, a clinical psychologist in Portland, Ore. Describing the change in social needs that follows retirement, he notes: "Affiliation is a need that we often neglect as career-oriented individuals and only begin to appreciate when there is a loss of those who meet this need. ... For the elderly, friends and family assume once again this position. ... There are theories of personality that claim we have no personality except in relationship to other people."

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