I read something once that has always stayed with me and it goes like this: “If you are happy with the one you’re with when you’re alone, you will never be lonely.” To me, that makes perfect sense. After a marriage of just over ten years, I decided marriage just wasn’t for me. I thought I would try living alone to see how I fared. That was over 35 years ago and I still live alone. I guess I must like it. You might say that now I’m senior and single and making the most of it.
I feel for people who have been married to the same person for decades, and that suddenly in their senior years find themselves alone. It must be incredibly hard to come to terms with.
The feeling of loneliness would probably be overwhelming after having a significant other in your life for almost all of your adult years. I guess I will be spared that because I have grown so used to living on my own.
THE OLDEST PERSON IN THE WORLD
Just recently I wrote an article about the oldest person in the world. I wrote it for a very good reason. She passed away not too long ago, but at 117 years old she died as a single senior. I was intrigued by her story, because much like myself, she tried marriage and didn’t like it and stayed happily single and independent for almost 80 years.
It’s a common misconception that seniors who are single don’t live as long as senior couples. I don’t know why people even think that. As a matter of fact, I could just imagine myself being nagged into an early death.
That’s not to say that many couples who are still together as they reach the golden years are not happy. I’m sure many of them are.
Italian Emma Morano was 38 when she simply had enough of her husband mistreated her. She decided right then that she would never get married again. She once said, ” I don’t want to be dominated by anyone.” Emma Morano felt so strongly about her independence that she remained single for 79 years until the day she died.
So much for single seniors not living as long as senior couples.
THE FIGURES SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES
In the United States, nearly 30% of the 46 million seniors live alone. That’s over 14 million seniors who are going it alone. About half of them are over 85 years old. What’s more revealing is that these people don’t live in retirement communities, they live alone in their own homes. About three-quarters of those seniors living alone are women.
There are many reasons for this. For one thing, women have a longer life expectancy than men. Also, men who are widowed or divorced are many times more likely to remarry as compared to women. As a rule, it’s much harder for women to attract men as they age.
Men on the other hand, often marry younger women the second time around as opposed to women their own age. This is one of the main reasons why single female seniors outnumber senior men joining online senior dating sites.
THE CHALLENGES OF LIVING ALONE
Regardless if you are a single man or woman there can be many challenges once you reach the golden years.
(1)Many people who live alone do so in poverty. The longer they live alone, the more poverty has a chance of becoming a likely scenario. Consider a senior woman who is living alone in the home she once shared with her husband. She no longer works and the cost of living just keeps going up.
The cost of taxes, utilities, home repairs, food, and a dozen other necessities of life continue to rise. It’s not long before a single senior who no longer works burns through their savings despite government handouts. This goes a long way to explaining why you have people over 85 or even 90 living in their homes alone in a state of near poverty. They couldn’t afford a retirement home even if they wanted to go into one
(2)It’s not at all unusual for seniors who live alone to feel lonely, left out, and isolated. This reason alone could lead to an early death for some unless they can make the adjustment and embrace the single lifestyle.
(3)Many people who live alone are used to eating meals being a social event. Once they find themselves on their own, eating becomes an unwelcome chore and often they become undernourished. Of course, this can lead to a host of diseases.
One thing that struck me about Emma Morano, the 117-year-old woman, is that at every meal she put out a place setting for herself. She enjoyed her meals despite not sharing them with anyone. She made her own meals until she was 115 years old. It was only that she gave in and had a live-in caretaker.
(4)It’s easy for seniors who have health problems or difficulty seeing or hearing to have worsening symptoms of disease go unnoticed. If they had someone living with them the other person might notice changes in behavior that could otherwise go unnoticed.
(5)A senior who is living alone and dealing with health issues has nobody around to remind them to follow directions for prescribed medications. It’s easy to forget things as you age and it can be detrimental not having someone around to look out for you on a daily basis.
(6) One out of four seniors over 65 falls every year. Most of the time it’s in their home. They might slip in the bathtub and suffer severe injury. Some seniors have even died because there was nobody around to call for help. Seniors who live alone have to be extra careful.
INDEPENDENCE AT ALL COSTS
Despite all the things that can go wrong, many seniors are very adamant about maintaining their independence. Even if they could easily afford a retirement home setting, they still have no desire to leave the place they call home.
Many seniors soon realize the importance of maintaining mental and physical health as well as socializing on a regular basis. These are all important considerations when a senior decides to go it alone. By staying connected they are able to maintain their independence for years.
Studies have also revealed that by staying connected seniors have fewer health problems as opposed to those who live isolated lives.
If you tend to be active and out and about a lot you might want to consider MobileHelp.
In the event anything happens in the way of a medical emergency, it’s just a matter of pressing a button and your information and location are sent to emergency operators. So you are truly never alone.
There are many things seniors can do in order to stay connected.
Volunteering is an excellent way to get involved with the community. It’s an opportunity perhaps to make use of the many skills a senior has learned over the course of their lifetime.
Many seniors never stop learning no matter how old they are. Many will go back to school and take some courses on subjects that have always interested them. Maybe they will take photography or painting classes for instance. It’s not unusual for retired seniors to learn a new language. This is especially true if they are doing a lot of traveling.
Hobbies are also very popular and with all the free time on their hands, they can perhaps experience new hobby interests they once never had time for. As for myself, I began to learn how to fly fish when I turned 65. I actually put off learning until 65 on purpose. I wanted a new hobby that would help me fill in all the spare time I would eventually have in retirement.
Writing a book is also a great way to stay mentally sharp and express yourself. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, writing is excellent on many levels.
PRECAUTIONS SINGLE SENIORS SHOULD TAKE
There are many precautions seniors can take to maintain their health and safety when they are living an independent lifestyle. The older a person gets, the more they have to pay attention to details pertaining to their safety.
Medical Alert would be a great way to connect with instant help in the event of an emergency. Whether a senior is at home or on the road Medical Alert can provide them with pendants, bracelets and in-home landlines that will connect them with instant help in the event of an emergency.
In other words, seniors who make use of the Medical Alert system will never truly be isolated and alone.
ALSO READ: THE BEST GIFTS FOR SENIOR WOMEN
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