Retirement is the perfect opportunity for older adults to reinvest in old hobbies, travel to interesting places, and develop new skills. Whether they’ve planned to or not, many older adults find themselves entering retirement as a single senior. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are nearly 20 million unmarried U.S. adults age 65 and older, with 27% of adults age 60 and older living alone. These numbers are likely to increase as more baby boomers enter retirement than ever before. While there is freedom that comes with being a single senior, there are also challenges. Single seniors are at risk of social isolation, which refers to a lack of social connection, and can lead to feelings of loneliness in some people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social isolation is associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia and significantly increases one’s risk of premature death from all causes. In addition to social isolation and loneliness, single seniors face other unique challenges as they think about retirement.
Challenges for Single Seniors in Retirement
While retirement is a big adjustment for all older adults, it can be especially challenging for those aging alone. Here are some of the most common challenges that single seniors face when preparing for retirement:
Financial security. Aging is expensive, especially for single older adults. In fact, according to a study conducted by Northwestern Mutual, single men and women are generally less satisfied with their financial situation compared to their married peers. Dealing with financial anxiety is not an ideal way to enter retirement. Experts suggest planning for retirement sooner rather than later and budgeting for medical expenses before you need them.
- Social support. Maintaining a supportive social network is a crucial element in healthy aging. Those who don’t have a spouse, whether by choice or circumstance, must intentionally build a circle of trusted friends or family members who will help them navigate the aging process. In addition to providing practical support, this network should also be able to provide a sense of belonging and camaraderie, both of which support healthy aging.
- Housing. Long-term singles are often familiar with living alone. However, many benefits come with living in a retirement community, especially when aging alone. Senior living communities offer manageable one-bedroom living spaces that require minimal upkeep and have built-in sources of community and social interactions.
Benefits of Retirement Communities for Singles
For many older adults, retirement is an opportunity to transition into a senior living community. While independent living is an attractive option for many aging couples, it also offers unique advantages for single seniors. Here are a few of the most common benefits of retirement communities for adults aging without a partner:
Built-in social network. Making new friends is hard as you get older. However, the importance of social interaction increases as you age. Researchers believe there is a link between social contact and dementia risk. Most retirement communities offer built-in opportunities for socialization, including group exercise classes, organized outings, and events. This is a great way for single seniors to build relationships based on common interests.
- Circle of support. Building relationships with people you can trust and rely on is much easier when they live right next door. Many senior living communities offer support groups and spiritual services that help connect individuals with people who can provide care when needed. These circles of support often develop organically through continual social interactions.
- Comprehensive medical care. Older adults are at a greater risk of developing one or more chronic conditions as they age. Many times, spouses or long-term partners are the first to recognize behavioral or physical changes in their loved ones. Without a partner, it can be more difficult to identify changes that may signal a health condition. Living in a retirement community surrounded by other residents, community associates, and access to medical care can provide peace of mind to single seniors.
- Maintenance-free living. Keeping up with home maintenance can become more challenging and time-consuming as we age. Many single seniors often downsize in retirement, opting for communities that take care of utilities, lawn care, and in-home maintenance. Most senior living communities offer comprehensive services, which means more time for living and less time spent on chores and home upkeep. Some single seniors also opt for one-bedroom apartments in independent living communities to help keep both cost and clutter to a minimum.
- Stress-free travel. Retirement is the perfect opportunity to explore new parts of the world. For many single seniors, traveling solo can be daunting. Some communities offer travel opportunities and overnight trips for residents, which is a great way to build new relationships while discovering new places. Plus, in a senior living community, you can just lock and leave any time you please, with complete confidence that while you’re away, your home will be carefully looked after by community associates and neighbors.
At Inspīr, we offer the security and safety of having care on-site. That, paired with our incredible location on the Upper East Side, gives residents all the city has to offer right outside their front doors. Within the residence, we bring daily programs to our residents and provide delicious healthy meals, which are a perfect opportunity for meeting and dining with other residents.