Magazine article Medical Economics

On Loneliness

Magazine article Medical Economics

On Loneliness

Article excerpt

A 76-year-old widower, Aa retired miner, appeared at my office every Saturday afternoon with some minor complaint that seemed not worthy of medical attention. He was always dressed in a fresh shirt, tie, and suit, his shoes brightly polished.

He was rather shy and very polite. He particularly enjoyed talking with the nurses and would bring them little gifts. Although it appeared he had plenty of money and always insisted on paying, I felt guilty about taking his money for services he apparently did not need.

In an effort to detect anything I might have missed, I set aside two hours one Saturday for a thorough exam and review of his history. I found him in perfect general health. Since his wife had died two years ago, I asked if he had ever considered taking up with any of the single women in the community. He smiled and demurred.

I didn't know what to make of this patient. My nurses suggested that he was 'just lonely. …

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