Living Well While Solo
Life is a rich journey, full of a variety of experiences, highs, lows, accomplishments, setbacks, gains and losses. One constant in life is that change is inevitable, and no stage of life is more marked by change than the time we begin aging into our twilight years. As we age, priorities shift, the world shifts around us, and we face new decisions and challenges we may not be prepared for.
But aging, just as with anything, planning is important, as well as a requirement if we want to be able to exercise as much control as possible over the future direction and quality of our lives. And for those older adults who fall in a category known as “solo aging”, a unique set of circumstances and challenges is faced, when they consider and plan on what to anticipate for what comes next, as well as decide what truly matters to them in life.
About 27% of adults ages 60 and up live alone in the US, putting them in the category known as “solo aging”. For women aged 65 and older, about half of them live alone. Whether this is by choice or by circumstance, such as divorce or death of their partner, there are additional challenges and considerations that set them apart from other seniors. The possibility of not having children or close relatives nearby to help can be a problem should they be unable to perform the basic tasks of daily life well enough on their own.
Statistically, the number of older adults who will be solo aging is destined to grow by a significant margin. Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are the second largest percentage of the population according to the 2021 US Census. The rate of childlessness amongst boomers currently in their 50s and 60s is close to 20%.
While baby boomers represent a significant upcoming wave of solo aging adults, many adults already aged 65 or older find themselves in this category. For those currently living in this way, the most successful seniors living alone have learned to answer the following questions:
- Have you asked yourself what matters most to you? Or what makes up a good day for you? Where do you want to focus your energies as you age?
- What setting do you want to live in? What will you need to accomplish your goals and dreams you want in your retirement?
- Do you have a proxy in place who can make sure your wishes for medical care and lifestyle are always taken into consideration? Do you have someone you trust with power of attorney, who can help you make decisions with your best interests in mind?
- Do you have adequate medical insurance? A financial plan to manage your funds and estate?
Living alone doesn’t necessarily have to mean doing everything on your own as well. Hiring a home health care assistant can help to remove some of the burdens, allowing you to focus on what’s important to you. They can help as much or as little as you need, whether you need someone to come by once a week to help you with the shopping and errands outside the home, or you need someone coming daily to help manage your home and medications.