Aug 10

‘Mike? I haven’t seen him for quite some time now!’

When the initial euphoria about life abroad has settled, cultural quirks, disillusionment and language barriers, coupled with a lack of a support system can create a sense of loneliness for expats. Even those who coped quite well with the challenges of transition, start to miss a close and sufficiently large circle of friends after a while. Many may have loose leisure or sports partners, but no one they would call a really good, intimate friend. So even life in Thailand can start to feel depressing after a while – out of recurring feelings of loneliness.

Younger people usually deal with this challenge more easily – it is usually easier for them to integrate into new environments, to learn the new language and to make contacts with local people. Older people, however, often develop a desire to retire from public life. Over the years, many of them even tend to reduce their contacts to the people they once enjoyed hanging out with, only leaving their apartments to buy goods or to (quietly) attend the weekly expat meetings. Eventually, even that may feel to exhausting. So it is that we have to read in our newspaper that people died isolated and lonely – whether from illness or even by their own hands. In my view, that’s the worst end of life, considering the dreams they once had in mind when deciding to move to popular retirement countries like Thailand, Gran Canaria or New Zealand.

When confronted with loneliness, feelings of depression or anxiety: stay active, keep meeting your friends and maintain your hobbies! But also keep an eye on your friends and acquaintances: how are they actually doing right now?

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2010)

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Thoughts on “Social Withdrawal – a ‘retired expat syndrome’” (3):

  1. Comment by cognitive behavioural therapist toronto:

    Loneliness often leads to depression and that is not good. With older people, yes they laid back with the society but it is important that they still connect with friends once in a while or even join community organizations just to keep them busy.

  2. Comment by Lydia Evdoxiadi:

    Thank you for this thoughtful post on relocation.
    I believe anyone who is dealing with relocation and retirement
    and these akin issues should read this.

    It is important to treat relocation as a real social issue- it is a major life change with many future implications.

    So, I was looking for something to help me help people who come to my business and ask for advice on relocation. I find seniors to be at a very high risk of failure, mostly due to their fears for making ends meet in their
    current countries and also due to the rising amount of not-so-beneficial
    real estate promotions and all types of hype on making their money work better for them. Too many seniors fall in debt or have no way to come back home and often face very big challenges in terms of health and social cut-off.

    I stumbled upon your post and I cannot thank you enough for bringing up these issues in a blog with bonified professional and academic back up.

    Just in case you are
    interested I am also maintaining a
    website about relocation and how to do it the smart way

    http://relocatesmart.co/”

  3. Comment by Kiss Canaries:

    I think Gran Canaria is one of the most interesting places in the world. A lot of people in the older years live there and try to have their best times of the life.

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22.03.20