About 26 million Americans 50 or over live alone. It’s now the fastest-growing demographic in this country.
There’s a lot of reasons but key among them is that women have had more opportunities for career advancement, home ownership and financial independence. So, no surprise, women make up about 60% of the total.
And many of these live-alones feel positive about their circumstances. This, despite the fact that research clearly shows that they will face worse physical and mental health outcomes, as well as shorter life spans. Many of these individuals do not have children, which raises the additional quandary of who/how will they fit into any kind of elder care scheme.
Downsizing is problematic due to a lack of smaller scale housing. Despite the surge in single-person households, builders are focused on bigger and bigger homes. So many of these live-alones are forced to live in more space than they really need or can afford.
While they may prize their solo lifestyle, many of these boomers are freaked out by the looming elder care issue. Who are they going to call when a serious illness arises or a physical limitation makes it harder to live in their larger than needed home?
The solution may lie in some type of communal living option, where live-alones can continue to have the independence of living alone, but in a supportive atmosphere that at least assures their safety and emotional well-being. The co-operative housing movement is picking up steam but will it be large enough and soon enough to meet the demand of 26 million seniors is a big question. If you know a fellow boomer who is living alone, it would not be considered rude to discuss the co-op housing with them. The future for live-alone boomers could be bleak unless we boomers pull together to look for solutions.
It’s the least we can do for each other.
Jay Harrison is a writer and creative consultant for DesignConcept. You can also visit his author page here. His newest mystery novel, Rio Puerco Demise is available on Amazon. His first mystery novel, Head Above Water, is also available on Amazon.