The Challenge of Aging Alone

Aging alone is a challenge many people face. You may be one of them. Most pre-retirees and retirees know that, as they age, there is a single solid support system they can absolutely count on: their adult children. But what happens when they don’t exist?  What happens if they are too busy or unreliable?  What happens if they are prone to helping themselves to your finances?

A solitary old age is, for many, a threatening prospect, something to be contemplated with a mixture of apprehension and outright fear. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there are strategies which can be adopted to minimize the impact of a solitary old age. You need a multi-faceted “Go it Alone” plan.

The 2011 Census of Population counted nearly 5 million (4,945,000) seniors aged 65 and over in Canada. Of these individuals, 92.1% lived in private households or dwellings (as part of couples, alone or with others) while 7.9% lived in collective dwellings, such as residences for senior citizens or health care and related facilities.

Most people aged 65 and over lived in a couple with either a married spouse or a common-law partner during their early senior years.

2011 Census data showed that about one-quarter (24.6%) of the population aged 65 and over lived alone.  The share of the population that lived alone was fairly low and stable until about the age of 50 for women, and until approximately age 70 for men.  After these ages, the prevalence of living alone increased for both sexes, but more sharply for women.

Older single and childless people are at higher risk than those with children for facing medical problems, cognitive decline and premature death.

Suggestions:

  1. Establish a “virtual board of directors” – a network of friends, financial advisor, daily money manager, lawyer, accountant or other professionals you work with. They can assist you with care and decisions.  Also develop a plan of action if cognitive changes occur.
  2. Expand your social network – for those aging solo, expanding a social network is essential, according to experts on aging. Isolation contributes to depression, cognitive decline and a decline in overall health.

 

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