• Solo Aging and the Social Complications of Aging Alone

    Solo Aging and the Social Complications of Aging Alone

As baby boomers continue to redefine aging and retirement, there is a new trend on the rise. Solo aging, or aging alone, is becoming more and more common. These new seniors are living longer, maintaining more active lifestyles, and more likely to incorporate innovations in technology into their everyday lives. Yet, these solo agers are facing problems all too common to seniors, isolation and loneliness.

What is a Solo Ager?

A solo ager is someone who is aging alone. Other terms used are elder orphans as they are people who lack family or friends that can effectively function as an aging support system.

The Numbers About Aging Alone

It seems to be a double-edged sword. The seniors retiring since 2011 tend to be more independent and self-sufficient which makes them less likely to seek companionship. According to the U.S. Census, the rate of childless individuals among boomers is close to 20% with 27% of those without children living alone. This is because the number of childless seniors has doubled since previous generations, as well as the divorce rate.

What are the Challenges?

The biggest challenge to a solo ager is who will help with long-term care should they need it? Historically, this responsibility has fallen on the adult children of seniors. They may serve as caregivers, assist with housing issues, offer emotional and financial support, and provide socialization opportunities. Not only do solo agers, or those who age alone, lack these specific supports, they also must navigate a system that often assumes adult children are an option.

However, one of the greatest challenges to seniors living on their own is the problem of isolation and loneliness. With nearly 27% of seniors living by themselves, social isolation is both common and dangerous. Although living alone doesn’t inevitably lead to loneliness, the two often go hand in hand. In fact, as of June 2020, 56% of older adults reported feeling isolated. That’s more than double the number of seniors reporting feelings of isolation in 2018. As we discussed in the 3 Benefits of Social Living, a lack of socialization can lead to all kinds of negative effects in aging. Isolation can lead to depression, weight loss, cognitive decline, and other medical complications.

The Benefits of Community for Aging Alone

These realities have significant implications as the boomer generation ages. Without any family to step up when needed, solo agers may find themselves vulnerable in the years ahead due to a drastically shrinking market for paid caregivers. That is where a senior lifestyle community comes into play. 

Not only does a Continuing Care Retirement Community provide support that may not otherwise be accessible, but it also provides a thriving community of your peers with whom to socialize. This is especially important in instances where individuals have experienced the loss of a spouse. The loss of a spouse is heartbreaking and without a strong emotional support system, the experience can compound upon itself. 

In planning for your future, the possibilities of aging alone are a reality for more and more people every year. It’s important to know the challenges as well as the alternatives that are available.

Life Enriching Communities, Inc. (LEC), is an integrated family of lifestyle communities and senior living services in greater Cincinnati. Best known for our Twin Towers and Twin Lakes senior living communities, we have made aging well a top priority for nearly 120 years.

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