Are you single? If so, you may have retirement-related fears that those with partners are less likely to encounter.
Don’t click away if you’re married (or in a committed relationship). Consider that unless you and your partner die simultaneously, one of you will experience singlehood at some point.
Read on to discover various measures that, if taken now, will make the surviving spouse’s life simpler.
The dread of dying alone or of spending your final years alone, bored, and restricted in a retirement home is one of the largest phobias shared by the majority of people.
This need not be the case without appropriate preparation.
As with adult life, most retirement planning, and lifestyle material focus on couples. Single retirees have specific problems that websites, publications, senior living facilities, and other sources of information rarely recognize or address.
For some, being single is not a novelty.
In general, single seniors fall into one of two main categories: those who have been single for the majority or entirety of their lives and those who have been married for the majority of their adult lives but are now alone due to divorce or the death of their spouse.
Those who have been single for an extended period have an edge since they are accustomed to living alone. They are skilled at establishing friends, locating activities and clubs to join, and maintaining a support system. They are independent and comfortable spending time by themselves. In truth, many singles value their independence and autonomy and are typically not seeking a relationship. They are content with their solitary status. They have more independence, may budget and spend as they see fit, go where and when they like, and engage in the most gratifying hobbies.
Because they have been exclusively responsible for maintaining a home on one income during their working years, long-term singles may have saved less for retirement. Due to gender-based salary disparities, women may be disadvantaged since they have less money for retirement savings.
People who become alone after being in a relationship for many years must undergo a considerable lifestyle shift that may endure well beyond the mourning phase.
On the other hand, provided both spouses are prepared for retirement or, in the event of single-earner families, the breadwinner saved in expectation of retirement for two persons, the surviving spouse may be better off financially. A life insurance payout may also assist the surviving spouse.
There are three areas of particular interest to single retirees: socializing and support, housing, and travel.
Socialization and Assistance
Develop a support network. Identify someone who can occasionally check in on you and assist with responsibilities such as taking you to appointments, shopping, and household chores. If you are currently healthy and independent, you may not require assistance from others for many years. However, an emergency might arise at any time. Thus it is prudent to establish a network today.
Numerous medical treatments are performed on an outpatient basis; thus, you will need someone to drive you home and support you throughout your recovery. Hiring a home care helper is possible, but it may be costly.
If you do not have willing and able family members nearby, you will have to rely on your friends and neighbors. You should not wait until you need assistance to determine who can provide it. It will be difficult to attempt to form a connection with someone while your current need for them is clear.
If you lack an adequate network of friends, relatives, and neighbors, investigate local senior support groups and their services. The presence of such an organization will be an important factor to consider if you intend to relocate to a new area upon retirement.
This may seem apparent, but you will likely have to make more effort to create and retain connections once you stop working and after the dissolution of your marriage.
Taking lessons in subjects that interest you is a fantastic alternative, and you will experience cerebral stimulation and meet individuals with similar interests. Local community colleges and universities may provide programs that enable senior students to take non-credit courses for free or at a minimal cost.
Get out of the dwelling! Even though you may appreciate solitude, you should not spend all your time at home. Do not let the absence of a companion prevent you from going to a restaurant, movie, concert, museum, or day excursion. After many years of marriage, newly single individuals may find it difficult to enjoy entertainment alone.
Long-term singles are accustomed to living alone and may be able to continue doing so well into their golden years. Nevertheless, living with people or in a close-knit community will become required sooner or later. Here are some living arrangements that can give help and delay the need for assisted living.
Cohousing communities are intended communities of individual residences centered around a common area. Each attached or single-family house features standard facilities, such as a private kitchen. Typically, shared spaces include a common home with a big kitchen and eating room, washing facilities, and recreational areas. Neighbors pledge to belong to a community for the mutual benefit of all. They jointly plan and manage community activities and common areas and share resources such as tools and lawnmowers.
The majority of cohousing communities are multigenerational. However, some are geared toward retirees. Multigenerational communities are useful in several ways, despite the fact that some younger neighbors may not completely grasp the requirements of elderly inhabitants, and giving care may be beyond their motivation or ability.
For additional information about cohousing, please visit the United States Cohousing Association website (not senior-specific).
Two or more unrelated adults share a single residence.
The sitcoms “The Golden Girls” and “Hot in Cleveland” are excellent examples.
Several websites aim to link those seeking home-sharing opportunities with others who have room to give. These websites also provide information on how to develop and manage effective house-sharing arrangements.
National Resource Center for Shared Housing Roommates4Boomers (for women only), Women Who Reside in a Community (for women only)
Solo travel may be one of the greatest obstacles you face as a single retiree, particularly if you’re accustomed to traveling with your spouse. When one partner dies, the remaining partner may feel reluctant to travel alone for anything other than a family visit. But being single is no excuse to exclude travel aspirations from your bucket list.
When traveling alone, you may determine your itinerary. You will not have to settle with a trip companion who does not share your interests. If you are exhausted on a given day, you can rest without worrying about depriving your travel companion of anything.
If you are apprehensive about traveling alone, start cautiously. Start with day outings or weekend excursions to surrounding cities.
Consider cruise ships and group vacations as alternatives. Be aware, however, that most cruises impose a “single supplement” (an extra fee to compensate for having only one passenger in a room instead of two), making them more expensive. A few cruise ships now offer singles-only cabins that are smaller than expected.
Solitary Traveler provides information about trips tailored exclusively for solo travelers and solo travel advice. Some tour providers, such as Road Scholar (previously Elderhostel), Intrepid Travel, and Classic Journeys, are experts in designing single-travel excursions. Vacaya, and Atlantis Events provide roommate-sharing programs for individuals.
Another alternative is to book at the last minute and request that the single supplement be waived. If there are still spaces on a cruise or tour, they would rather have a single person in a room than an empty room. The majority of ships offer singles mixers. If you’re still apprehensive about meeting people on a cruise, you should make acquaintances before visiting CruiseCritic.com’s discussion boards for upcoming trips. A Facebook group may exist for your future cruise.
Solo travelers must use common sense and take several safety measures.
If you are touring independently, leave a note with your day’s schedule in your hotel room so that authorities will know where to seek you if you don’t return. Stay in public, open settings, particularly at night.
Before venturing outside, research maps, transit schedules, and costs so that you look assured, if you appear disoriented, you may become a target for unethical individuals. Learn how much a taxi should cost and confirm the fare with the driver before boarding.
If You Are Already Married
If you are currently married, do not rely only on your partner for companionship and support. In the majority of couples, tasks are split. For example, one may manage all money affairs, while the other keeps contact information for all friends and family. Ensure that each of you knows enough about the other’s responsibilities to take over if the other becomes incapacitated or dies.
It would be prudent to record and save important information, including logins and passwords, contact information, instructions, etc., in a safe location where either spouse may access it if necessary.
You and your spouse may hope and prepare for a pleasant retirement together, but you should also consider how you will live if you outlive your partner.
With the correct mindset and careful planning, you may still live an active, happy, and meaningful retirement as a single retiree, despite the problems that come with it.