May 11, 2015 by Jean
My experience of retirement is strongly shaped by the fact that I live alone. This is not an unusual experience, especially for women. According to U.S. Census data, most women age 65 or over are unmarried, and most of those unmarried women live alone. Forty-five percent of households headed by someone age 65 or older are single-person households, and women are much more likely than men to be in those single-person households.
Despite these realities, most of the research and literature on retirement focuses on the needs and experiences of couples. I think this may be because, until recently, almost all that literature focused on men’s retirement experiences, and men are more likely to be coupled.
Out of curiosity, I did a Google search for “living alone after retirement.” The first page of hits included five from retirement bloggers. Two of these (both from Barbara at Living Richly in Retirement) presented living alone as a positive experience. The other three included a request from Bob at Satisfying Retirement for people who live alone in retirement to share their experiences, a post entitled “Living Alone: The Worst Retirement Choice” and another on “Dealing with Loneliness in Retirement Life.” The hits that were not from blogs included an article from AARP on “10 Best Cities for Older Singles” – with an emphasis on cities with a lively older dating scenes and opportunities to “meet someone new” – and an article from U.S. News on “How to Live Alone Without Being Lonely.”
The focus in most of these hits seemed to be on living alone as an unwanted, lonely existence, but one that you can learn to make the best of (if you can’t find someone new and stop living alone). Largely missing were the voices of those who choose to live alone and find it a life-enhancing experience. Recently, Kim Adonna, who blogs about a wide range of topics at kimberleeadonna, has been filling in these missing voices in a series of guest posts about living alone (the Who But You? project). Today, my contribution to this series, “The Joys of Solitude” has been published on Kim’s blog. To read it, click here.