Retirement as a single person isn’t something most of us planned on. Yet, about 23% of people retire alone every year.
Some of the most common reasons include by choice, never finding that special someone or the passing of a partner. As a single retiree, this raises several challenges as well as advantages.
Here are some aspects that you need to consider:
Some folks are completely happy and embrace being single. Others, not so much. Yet, being single in retirement can be daunting and raises its own set of concerns.
Retirement as a Single Person - Pros and Cons
There are advantages and disadvantages to retiring alone. More than anything it’s governed by circumstances and / or personal choice. For some, it’s the best time of their life whereas others might be miserable.
Lots of single people thoroughly enjoy their lives with no regrets not being in a relationship.
Unencumbered with a partner, they have complete freedom of choice. Some might even envy their lifestyle viewing it as a “dream retirement”.
They might travel extensively or enjoy going out and having fun with friends. The point is, they can do what they want without needing to compromise.
They may develop deep friendships deeper than even those with family members. While we can’t choose our family, we can our friends. In some situations, they become more family than siblings.
Having said that, an almost universal fear is of growing old. Friends can come and go, what will the next 20 to 30 years be like?
The one thing most terrifying to me is growing old alone! I’m fortunate to have a wonderful husband and several very close friends. They mean the world to me and, truly, are my family!
There’s no doubt the quality of our social connections is the key to living a happier more fulfilled life. For more information, see the most essential ingredient for happiness.
Without a significant other, you’ll need to compensate by deepening / broadening your friendships.
For those without a strong social circle, they’re at greater risk of feeling disconnected and alone. This can manifest itself as feeling lonely and even spiral into depression.
Research from the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs indicates clinical depression goes up by about 40% after retiring.
Retirement as a single person has additional challenges, particularly as we age. Who’s going to be there for you, when at some point, you need help?
If you have children, hopefully they’re not kicking you to the curb and sticking you in a home.
Grow and Nurture Your Social Network
Unfortunately, loneliness and even social isolation are all too common in retirement. Feelings of boredom, restlessness, and anxiety can occur when you spend too much time alone.
Gradually, this can even result in mental decline. The happiest people have an active social network.
Nurture your friendships; don’t take them for granted. Checking in with them to see how they’re doing creates a camaraderie. Get together, visit, chat on the phone or via video – whatever it takes to maintain those bonds.
Take time to make new friends. Maybe you’ll have a hobby in common like painting or woodworking. Now that you’re no longer working, you have lots more time to nurture these friendships and help them blossom.
Again, you’re choosing your family. Having that close circle of friends will help maintain your happiness.
Having someone to see or something to do gives you a reason to get out of bed every morning. Work gave you a schedule which is now gone. You should maintain some sort of daily agenda.
If it’s your thing, get involved with the community. Find a group that has similar interests. Start a book club. Do something that gets you out there talking and interacting with people. What’ve you got to lose?
Dating in Retirement
Dating at this stage in life, isn’t quite like it was back in our 20’s. We were carefree and everything was fun filled with new experiences. Now it’s more akin to a job interview determining compatibility.
The first date reveals their personality, how set in their ways they’ve become, and some of the emotional baggage might be revealed. By the third date, you’ve probably got a feel for their net worth.
That’s not to say your “perfect person” isn’t out there. Yet, lots of folks have given up and prefer to remain single. In light of all the bad and abusive relationships, there’s a strong argument to remain single.
Pay Attention to Your Health
In general, people are living longer lives. Some even reach the 100-year mark or more! So, it’s a good idea to take care of your physical and mental health.
One thing to ensure is to have an emergency fund for medical expenses or emergencies.
Some of the expenses could be things you do to keep yourself healthy. Going to a chiropractor, getting a massage or acupuncture are a few of the options that some people choose to enhance their well-being.
By taking care of yourself, you’ll help to reduce healthcare costs.
And, god forbid, there’s an emergency. Living in retirement as a single person can lead to some health concerns that married people don’t encounter.
In fact, the American College of Cardiology, states adults retiring alone are 5% more likely to have heart disease.
Taking care of your mental health is just as important. You’ll want to make sure to stimulate your mind by learning a new skill, reading a book or doing puzzles.
Even having a conversation gets the wheels turning so they stay well-oiled. Another option would be to adopt a pet. Pets have been shown to keep you healthier because you’re taking them for walks.
Also, they can prevent depression and lower stress. After all, dogs are man’s (or women’s) best friend!
Define Your Long-Term Needs and Support
Living in retirement as a single person means there’s more of an urgency to plan and prepare when it comes to your needs as you age.
According to Senior Care, 69% of Americans are going to require long-term care. As much as we all wish differently, this becomes a blind spot for many. In fact, only 37% believe they’ll ever need it.
Also, consider long-term care insurance. You won’t have a partner or children you can rely on so you’ll be paying for help.
Document your choices when it comes to who’ll speak for you if or when you can’t. These people are called your proxy or agent. A living will designates a trusted person who’ll express your wishes if something happens to you.
If you’re healthy and active, hopefully, you won’t need support for many years to come. However, by planning ahead, your network is in place and ready to assist you when you need it.
Home care is expensive especially for someone retiring along. There are costs associated with everything they provide from rides for appointments to checking in on you. That could deplete your retirement income really fast!
Retiring single has its advantages and disadvantages. While you have the luxury of doing what you want with no encumbrances, you don’t have that network in place for emergencies.
Hold onto all the positive aspects and explore all the possibilities. Plan for those challenges we all know arise whether we want them or not.
It’s just the beginning of a fun journey not the end. The ultimate goal is to live a life you love on your own terms and retire great!
Great article. My husband and I are aging alone. I had a career in healthcare and have seen all kinds of retiree situations that are less than optimal. I am always trying to think ahead while hubby says we will deal with it when the time comes. I told him that many seniors are not able tow know when the “time” has come either emotionally or cognitively!
Excellent points, Barb. The old saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is so true when it comes to retirement. Unfortunately, most folks don’t plan ahead and wind up reacting to whatever life throws at them.
While we always hope for the best, often we may not be able to recognize when the “time” has come.