SENIORS: CHOOSING TO LIVE ALONE

Oct 4th, 2011 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Adjusting to Loss of Spouse or Partner

Choosing to live alone, if you have been previously married or coupled, is a consideration of enormous proportions.  If you have become accustomed to the dynamics introduced in a shared living arrangement, living alone can introduce many adjustments for senior citizens.  Therefore, considering this option is no small task.

Deciding to Live Alone or Not

Among the issues to think through and feel comfortable about are:

  • Do I deal with my day to day living in a productive way, free of needing someone to share it with me?  Carefully evaluate your level of need to be around others during the day.  Having been used to a companion may prevent your ability to be comfortable being alone.
  • Am I comfortable, for the most part, living alone and taking care of all or most of my needs?  Examine what you can do by yourself, and what you need help with.  Use good judgement about when and where you need help.
  • Do I feel safe living alone?  This is an emotional issue.  An important one!
  • Is there someone, friend or family member, nearby, in the event I need attention? Will they respect my need for privacy?  Having a family member or close friend nearby may make all the difference in your ability to live alone.  But someone intruding without invitation is a harbinger of problems.
  • Are financial issues such that I can assume the overhead of living alone?  Take a look at your budget and determine if it can handle the expenses of living in your home, without income from another person.  You may need help with this if you are not accustomed to dealing with financial issues.
  • If I live with someone else would I be comfortable with that person just as a roommate?  Do I want a roommate or do I want a sexual companion?  You need to be clear about your expectations, both with yourself as well as with whomever you are considering inviting into your home.
  • Do I want to have a pet or pets?  Pets extend the life of seniors, and many of us have more than one.  If you invite a companion into your home, will he/she be comfortable with your pet?  Will you be comfortable with hers/his?  This needs to be thought through carefully.
  • Am I still mobile and able to take care of myself in large part?  If you need help showering and dressing, you need more than a roommate; you need assistance with tasks of daily living and need to talk with your physician about this.  But if you are still doing all your personal care, cooking meals, doing light housecleaning and do not require assistance on a daily basis, you may well be in a good place to consider having a roommate or living companion.
  • Am I able to provide good, healthy meals for myself and will I do it?   Again, you must be honest with yourself.  Talking about cooking and actually doing it are two different things.  Putting cereal in a bowl and pouring milk over it is NOT cooking.  Meals need to be nutritionally balanced.  If you cannot prepare good meals, you need to read the next point.
  • When/if the situation is such that I need to consider living in an environment, assisted care or other, that will be safer for me, will I be willing to do so? Such a question has many considerations and issues that SCJ has talked about in the past.  The process of deciding to move into assisted living is not easy, but it is manageable if thoughtfully considered.

These are among the issues that need to be given careful perusal as you consider whether living alone or not is for you.  Talk with trusted family and friends.  Seek advice.  And proceed carefully.



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