Approximately 50% of adults in America today are single, and 28% of people live on their own. As an American, you are more likely to live alone than with a family or a roommate. But is living alone a good thing—particularly for older adults? Here are just a few myths and misconceptions about living alone.
Not everyone finds living alone to be lonely. When work and outside commitments are very social, it can be incredibly relaxing to come home to an empty apartment and get a chance to decompress. Many people prefer living alone for just this reason—they can socialize when and where they want, and they have a quiet space to retreat to when they want to relax. For many people, the quiet space to retreat to allows them more enthusiasm to be sociable outside of the home.
Living alone isn’t for everybody. But for many in the States, it’s more than just a transitional arrangement.
Not necessarily. People from all walks of life live alone when they can afford to and when their life situations allow it—many people prefer living alone to having roommates, and some prefer it to living with a significant other.
Older people would prefer to live with their children
Also, not necessarily. The thing many older people love most about being grandparents, for example, is the ability to give the kids back to their parents when there’s a tantrum coming on. While some grandparents, may love the idea of living with their kids and grandkids, others prefer frequent visits—and a home of their own.
It’s dangerous for older people to live alone
It’s true that older adults are more vulnerable to injury in the home. But even if an older adult lives with family, it’s possible to experience an injury while others in the house are out or asleep. And people who live alone often build strong social networks and rely on their friends and family in times of illness. And older adults today stay healthy and active much longer than they were decades ago. As long as they’re healthy, it’s not dangerous for older adults to live by themselves.
Living alone is a transitional arrangement
In centuries past, people married young—and married again as soon as possible if a spouse died. If that wasn’t possible, many people moved in with family. Today, it’s more common for people to choose to live alone—especially since the typical adult in the US is more likely to be unmarried than married. In fact, studies show that living alone is one of the most stable living arrangements out there—the only more stable arrangement is living in a family with children.
Living alone is selfish
Actually, for many older adults who were used to the role of caretaker when younger—particularly women with grown children—living alone in later life is a welcome respite from a life spent caring for others. Living alone gives people more independence and freedom from compromise. To some people, that may appear selfish. But to many, it’s freeing and exciting.
Living alone isn’t for everybody. But for many in the States, it’s more than just a transitional arrangement. It seems as though many older adults who have the financial resources frequently choose to live alone for the freedom and independence it provides—and prefer “intimacy at a distance” to living in the same house with children and grandchildren. It’s possible that in the past, people chose to live with family because they had fewer resources to live alone than people do today—and perhaps more people would have lived alone if they could have afforded to. Either way, living alone can be a liberating choice—and for many older adults, it’s the ideal living situation.