While reading a weekly magazine, I was drawn by an article with a headline reading "Meet-up group for seniors a huge success."
According to the piece, there are many services for single men and women in their 60s and over to help them find a partner or spouse, and they've gotten quite popular. Apparently people in their 80s are giving it a try, too.
The article used language designed to make light of the participants, as if they had apparently forgotten their age by wearing youthful fashions and having a good time at karaoke and other places.
While reading it, I thought, isn't it fine for them to be doing these things? Regardless of whether they find a partner or not, isn't it great for the mental and physical health of those in their 60s, 70s and over to talk about this and that and enjoy fashion?
If there is an issue with these meet-up groups, it's that they're supposedly restricted to singles only. Wouldn't it be good if even those who have a husband or wife could take part in the wonderful time these people seem to be having.
Once in my consultation room, an older man told me that since reaching retirement age, he had lost his reason for living. "Why not put on a tie, and go and have a meal at a nice restaurant?" I suggested to him. I was surprised when he told me he had no one to go with.
"You have a wife, don't you?" I asked. "Wear a tie, go out with my wife, to a restaurant? Don't joke around," he replied, seriously rebutting the idea.
I thought it was a shame. It seems to me that the older people get, the more necessary it is to take time away from the everyday for activities like listening to music, singing, or eating a dish made by a professional chef.
Of course it's fine whether you do it alone or with a friend, but how much more rewarding could it be with a partner who you can be yourself with? For those living with a husband or wife now, that person is right in front of you.
Regardless, deciding that you have no one to go outside with is a really regrettable waste.
Even with a partner you have grown accustomed to, just a change in the shade of lipstick or a new pocket handkerchief can bring the surprise of encountering a different side of someone.
I'm not saying that meet-groups reserved for older people who, due to whatever the circumstances, do not have a partner are having all the fun. Rather, what I want to say is that husbands and wives should take some time together to enjoy something outside of the normal routine. I want to help people bear in mind that this is the most relaxing of methods to improve your mental and physical wellbeing.
(Japanese original by Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)