Retirement Article
Challenges Faced by Single Seniors living Alone
Scott A. Gese

Older, retired single seniors often face a unique set of challenges when they live alone. Several of the biggest concerns for these individuals include social isolation and loneliness, Lack of support with daily functions, financial insecurity and health issues.

single seniorJ.D. Mason/Unsplash

Without a partner or family members nearby, older adults may struggle to find ways to cope with these issues. Eventually they may become disconnected from their community eventually falling through the cracks of society.

Let's take a closer look at these issues.

Social Isolation

As an older retiree who lives alone, you are susceptible to social isolation. The older you become, the more likely it is for you to lose touch with your friends and loved ones either through death or distance. If you are not involved within your community this can leave you without a support system.

The lack of any meaningful social contact can lead to depression, anxiety, loneliness and even hopelessness. This is a significant issue for many older adults and can be especially challenging if you have idle time on your hands and fewer opportunities to socialize.

One of the biggest concerns expressed by older adults who are socially isolated is the lack of companionship and emotional support. In fact it is one of the biggest concerns of older adults. Without regular social interaction there is a risk of becoming disconnected from your support network and the community where you live. This lack of support can and most likely will develop into a real issue.

There have been ample studies to show that socially isolated seniors tend to have a higher risk of such things as heart disease and stroke. Without social interaction you are also more likely to suffer from memory loss and dementia.

To fight against the effects of social isolation you should look for opportunities to engage with others. Be active in your community senior center, look for volunteer opportunities and other ways to connect and stay active both physically and mentally.

Lack of support

Social isolation is usually do to the lack of a support network.

Older adults who live alone may find it difficult to complete day to day activities like cooking nutritious meals, keeping up on housecleaning chores or running errands like making it to the grocery store. Without a necessary support system that can offer you some help these normally simple tasks can be a struggle. This can lead to stress, anxiety and a decline in your health and well being.

Additionally, you may be the type who finds it difficult to ask for help due to a sense of embarrassment or even shame. Admitting to the fact that you need help can be a real blow to your pride or ego because now you may see yourself as a burden and no longer able to live as independently as you would like.

What are your options?

There may be local volunteer programs that can help with in-home care or bring seniors in need together with others who can assist them with their daily living activities.

If that's not the case in your area you may be left with few options to get the help you need with your daily living activities. This could put you in a very challenging position. One that you may not be able to overcome. This is why it's so important for you to stay engaged in your community where you can find the necessary resources, support and encouragement you need to stay independent.

Financial insecurity

The potential for financial insecurity is another big concern with those who live on a fixed income especially retired single seniors. During a time of high inflation when prices are quickly rising, a point may be reached where even with government intervention i.e. food stamps, there isn't enough income to cover all of your expenses.

Cutting back on your expenses can only go so far. Healthcare Ins. costs and medical expenses alone can quickly overwhelm a fixed income budget. Medicaid can help but it's not a total fix.

According to national statistics, the average savings account balance for seniors is around $8000. This can quickly disappear in an emergency.

Let's consider housing. The cost of keeping a roof over your head doesn't go down when inflation is on the rise. What do you do if you find you need to consider an assisted living situation when you're already struggling financially. If you own your home outright you may be able to sell it. That could be difficult in a high inflation environment. Even if you were to sell it, assisted living is not cheap. The funds would only carry you so far.

At this point, older adults, who are generally on a fixed income, may struggle to find financial support from other sources. This can lead to a decline in your overall quality of life.

Some seniors have found it necessary to take on a part time job. Others have become desperate enough to take on the humiliation of begging on a street corner.

There are government funded in-home care services available, but some single seniors living on a fixed income may not qualify or be able to afford this service. When you are walking a thin line between financial security and insecurity, do whatever you can to stay within your budget. If your social support network is lacking, it's important to grow it. If you are shy, this would be a good time to get over it.

Don't let financial insecurity happen to you. Consider taking steps while you're young to secure your financial stability in your retirement years. Sit down with a financial planner and develop a retirement plan that will give you ample resources and keep the possibility of financial insecurity at bay.

Health issues

The older you are, the higher your risk of developing health problems. Chronic illnesses and mobility issues will have a huge impact on your finances. If you are retired and living alone you may find it difficult to manage major health issues. Especially if you lack the necessary support and assistance network needed to help you manage these issues.

Let's face it. As we get older our bodies and our minds go through certain changes that can make life more challenging. Chronic long-term health issues such as the onset of arthritis or diabetes are common among many older adults. Even though you might be able to manage these conditions with medications and lifestyle changes, they can still have a huge impact on your financial security as well as your quality of life.

Many older adults find it difficult to climb stairs or even walk. These mobility issues can stifle your everyday activities. Seniors living alone may find they need support or assistance moving about safely. Without relatives or a support system in place it could be a real struggle to take care of yourself.

Many older adults experience a decline in their mental health. Memory loss or a loss of your ability to make rational decisions can be devastating to your independent lifestyle. Retirees who live alone can find it difficult to take care of themselves. This is why a support system comprised of friends, family and community members that includes social interaction is an important factor in keeping your mind functioning at a level which allows you to hold on to your independent lifestyle.

In conclusion, as an older retired single senior who lives alone, you face a unique set of challenges. you may struggle with issues including social isolation, lack of support for daily living activities along with physical and mental health concerns.

All of these issues contribute to the specter of financial insecurity and a poor quality of life. It is important for you to acknowledge and address your physical, mental and financial issues early on and prepare yourself well ahead of time to deal with these issues if you expect to enjoy a good life through your retirement years. Build a social network, secure your financial future and embrace a healthy lifestyle as early in life as possible. Doing so will improve the quality of your life throughout your retirement years.

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