Sarah Is 78 And Lives Alone In A Semi-Detached House In A Small Town. Despite Living In The Countryside For Over 50 Years: Human Growth And Development Case Study, OC, Ireland

Sarah is 78 and lives alone in a semi-detached house in a small town. Despite living in the countryside for over 50 years, Sarah agreed with her family to move house after the death of her husband two years ago. Her new neighbors are mainly young couples or young people sharing houses, none of whom she knows, except for the occasional ‘hello’. Sometimes Sarah feels she is living in an empty estate, especially from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

All of Sarah’s family is scattered: her eldest daughter Jennifer is in America. her son John is in Dublin with his family and her youngest child Sally is in Australia. Sarah talks to her daughters over the phone regularly, especially Jennifer who phones each Sunday evening. John and his family live about four hours away but they visit every two or three months. Sarah loves seeing her two grandchildren (Jim and Tom), although she feels she doesn’t know them well.

Sarah’s three children bought her an iPad last Christmas and John continually tries to convince her to use it to keep in touch with the family. Sarah is living on a small widow’s pension and using the iPad to keep in touch with her children and grandchildren would help avoid costly phone bills. Sarah doesn’t feel confident around new technology and, besides, it’s not the same as a phone call with a ‘real voice’ at the end of the line. She experiences insecurity and is disillusioned with modem technology.

Sarah used to work part-time in a post office in a small village before she retired and she still misses the sense of belonging and contribution the job brought to her life. She has found retirement particularly difficult since her husband died. Sarah often thinks back to the years when she would meet everyone from the village on a daily basis at Mass, the local shops, and regular coffee mornings. Her sense of social belonging and participation has greatly changed since moving away from her country home and she feels a loss of worth and sense of belonging.

Now Sarah feels lonely and fills much of her time watching television. Her children have encouraged her to do a night class but she’s reluctant to join something where she knows no one. She always did want to do ballroom dancing but now has arthritis. and has had a few risky falls so she thinks that it’s better not to try dancing at this time in her life. She always meant to join the Irish Country Woman’s Association but now feels it is too late. Despite her feelings of isolation and loneliness. Sarah likes being close to the shops and church. although she only goes out during the day because she is intimidated by some of the local youth who hang about on the corner after dark. Sarah has been hurt in the past by their sneers and references to her as ‘aul one’ or ‘old granny.

One thing Sarah is especially happy to continue is visits to her close friend Paula. who lives in a nearby nursing home. Paula has multiple sclerosis and is unable to move well without assistance. Even with her fixed income. Sarah enjoys taking Paula out to get her hair done or to a café or the shops. Both women enjoy these outings. however, Sarah and Paula can only go out together when there is a care assistant free to go with them. Following each visit, Sarah tells herself that she would hate to live in a nursing home because she values her independence and personal space. Recognition of Paula’s dependence and realization that this could be her future as well is trouble for Sarah.

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