We’ve been posting recently about loneliness and living alone for two reasons. Why? First, we hear from you that this is a significant personal concern to so many in our POP community. And secondly, we’re concerned and we want to help, especially learning what a huge health hazard loneliness can become.
As is our way, we aim to share with you both the hard truths and research, as well as our POPerspective: how to create what we all want for our lives — less loneliness and more joy, for us all, all the generations.
- Did you know that unmarried baby boomers are five times more likely to live in poverty than their married counterparts?
- They are also three times as likely to receive food stamps, public assistance or disability payments.
- More and more of us 55 plus are living alone and, each year, that number grows.
- The divorce rate among baby boomers has climbed more than 50 percent, despite overall divorce rates having stabilized.
- Today’s aging women, unlike our mothers and grandmothers, are often increasingly financially independent and more willing and equipped to “go it alone.”
How did we get here?
- Certainly our collective longevity has contributed to people living longer, and therefore alone more often.
- Similarly many boomers’ choice to work and not have children have left them without POParents to live with.
- Our evolving national economics and,
- Often our lack of planning ahead and related “living in denial.”
With this climbing rate of single seniors, many of us who’ve traditionally relied on our spouses for our care — or expected we would be able to — will now increasingly struggle to fend for themselves. We are not suggesting that finding a new mate or staying married in a bad marriage is “the answer” to loneliness.
However, without the ability to rely on family, our federal and local governments will have to shoulder much of the cost of their care. And no one today knows what reliance on our government for care will look like.
So, single or married, financially well off or not so much, what are the keys to reducing, at least, the scourge of loneliness that is so prevalent and painful?
- Develop an involvement in your community wherever community you live in and whatever form that takes. Doing so mean you get more support and give it to others, too.
- Make time for friends, hobbies and personal “missions” that give you a sense of purpose in life.
- Create a sense of “family” with those you most about via regular contact, creative “rituals” for holidays and clever use of 21st century technology. (A friend just reported celebrating her 70th birthday with a “family” birthday party on Skype across the nation!)
- Open yourself to a supportive belief system as your spiritual point of view can help bring you safely through some tough days and nights.
- Open your heart and mind to see and feel the love that’s here right now for you.