In 2015, almost half of older women living in America were living alone, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging reports. That’s about 9.2 million women. And the thing is, not all of that is by chance — a lot of older women are living alone by choice.
In a survey conducted by online magazine Sixty and Me, 95 percent of women said they’d prefer to live alone; they want to simplify, live in a smaller space and stay independent, all while connecting with family and friends through technology. While that may be the plan for you, your adult children may feel uncomfortable with the idea of you being on your own.
If you’re getting older and are interested in aging independently, here are a few ways to convince (and maybe even compromise with) your well-meaning, worry-sick children.
Consider Your Current Home
If you want to stay where you are, you might have to be willing to make some changes. For example, if your home has stairs or uneven flooring, a remodel is a must. If the layout of your home isn’t a concern, think about what is or what will be in the future. Be proactive and talk to your children about adding a few quick fixes around the house, like railings in the bathroom or better lighting in the hallways.
Agreeing to use certain technologies may also help them feel more comfortable with you living alone. For example, using an app like Lively can help them make sure you’re taking your medicine (if you’re the forgetful type). Additionally, wearing a medical alert system can offer them peace of mind and gives you aid if you need to call for help. Lastly, a home security system can give them real-time video footage (used only with your permission) to check in on you if you haven’t answered your phone in an agreed-upon timetable.
How About Housemates
Downsizing or relocating doesn’t mean your only options are to move in with your son or share a room at a retirement home. Have you heard about co-housing communities, where residents have their own bedrooms but share common spaces such as the kitchen, living room, dining room and yard? The Winnipeg Free Press equates it to buying a house with a couple of roommates and then splitting the costs as well as the domestic labor. In these situations, residents can remain independent, but enjoy a built-in social life.
Co-housing communities are popping up all around North America, but if there isn’t one near you, consider starting one with friends from your neighborhood, work or church. The Cohousing Association of the United States provides detailed resources for those interested in developing a cohousing community.
Time for Tiny Living
Have you seen HGTV’s “Tiny House Hunters” series? The popular TV show follows people across the country as they search for small spaces — we’re taking 300 to 500 square-foot spaces — to call home.
If you’re OK with the idea, you’ll love this: Granny Pods are tiny, high-tech backyard cottages that can be installed in the yard of a loved one’s home. Designed by a Virginia company with the help of a local university, the small dwelling can be hooked up to the main home’s existing water, sewer and power lines, and includes safety features like hand railings, defibrillators and first-aid kits. This is a great option for when factors like weakened health drive you closer to family, but your desire for independence remains strong.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
The only thing I can control is me. The concept of loving others as they are and changing the way I respond to them has been a cleansing, freeing experience.
2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I say what I mean and I mean what I say — and I appreciate family and friends surrounding me who do the same. Communication is key and I’m always working to improve.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
Giving birth to my sweet daughter after years and years of infertility is and will always be my most rewarding achievement. I dream of giving her a sibling someday!
4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?
In order to accomplish something, I like to have little victories along the way. That means before I do something big (like starting a writing assignment) I do something small (like clean the house). It’s my solution to writer’s block, and it works!
5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my sense of self. I think some people struggle to get along with others because they don’t get along with themselves. For the most part, my inner voice is positive. I’m comfortable with and like me — it makes all the difference.