Retired men are particularly at risk of emotional and physical decline, Pollack says: "Once they're put out to pasture, they lose the sense of purpose and structure they had at work. They lose the friends they had there, too. And most men lack any other meaningful connections aside from the romantic."
Male retirees who live alone are especially subject to loneliness, but even those who are married are often bored with lives limited to browsing the Internet or watching TV. They miss the action and the interactions of their working days. ROMEO members' wives tend to be enthusiastic about the meetings. "It's good for him," said the wife of one of the Gabriela's group. "Whatever gets him out of the house."
One of the favorite topics at her husband's ROMEO sessions is the comprehension chasm that has opened up between the members and the younger generations. "It's not just the music and the clothes," said one member at the December session. "It's getting so I don't understand New Yorker cartoons anymore."