Senior living and housing expenses are significant concerns for older individuals when aging alone, and topics like affordable shelter, transportation, isolation, and lack of connections hold anxiety.
The 65 and over age group continues to grow since the boomers now enter the demographic. There are thousands of us on our own, and we are in good company. The elder orphan Facebook group that I launched last year now has close to 5,000 members. We face similar challenges, like finding personal care after surgery or if we’re sick and feeling lonely due to isolation.
But it’s not just people living alone that face these challenges. The married and partnered, and those with adult children have similar concerns. It’s because our most affordable living options are located in the suburbs, far from convenient shopping, public transit, and attainable social connections.
It’s the female population that have the greatest numbers in this group. The statistics show the total seniors in the U.S. to be over 11 million, and of those living alone, 71% are female. Even though men have a higher chance of remarrying, there are a few of them on their own, and many complain about loneliness and isolation.
Research examining loneliness identified functional, psychosocial, and physiologic ill effects, including diminished physical activity, lessened motor function, depression, disrupted sleep, and impaired mental and cognitive function.
Since loneliness is a big concern for older individuals, we must start early and plan when we’re young and healthy enough to set up a lifestyle that minimizes the risks of loneliness, minimal transportation, and living expenses.
The National Institute of Health says that separation is not good for anyone, no matter the age. So, we need to seek out healthy lifestyles like co- and shared housing, independent and assisted living communities, and intentional and intergenerational neighborhoods, all designed to promote connection and support. Each combine the benefits of private homes with those of sustainable living.
All of these lifestyles blend resources for mixed-age communities. Like many, I do not want to age alone. I may live on my own, but, I want to do so in an environment that supports social connections, lifelong learning, fulfilling activities and easy access to transportation. I also want to live in a place that includes all ages, not just the 55+ age group
Carol Marak, aging advocate, and editor at Seniorcare.com. She’s earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.