behavior · environment · happiness · health · psychology

The financial and emotional drain of growing old alone

Marriage Day
Living with someone can be tough, but it may pay off, both financially and health-wise.

I came across this article today that focuses on the financial drain of growing old:

More Americans are living alone now than at any other point in history, and one-third of those 32.7 million are older than 65. A rise in the divorce rate in the over-50 set, which has doubled over the past two decades, along with women outliving their spouses by five to six years, is fueling the trend, which will only grow with an aging boomer population.

The older population in 2030 is projected to double from the start of this century — from 35 million to 72 million — representing nearly 20% of the total U.S. population, according to AARP.

Living on your own can be far more costly than sharing expenses like food and housing with a spouse, relative or housemate. Single seniors who also face escalating health care costs are five times more likely to live in poverty as their married peers.

I also feel like an important element was being skipped; the emotional drain and tax on growing old alone. If nothing else, for somebody to have your back.

One study in Denmark found that

A study involving more than 138,000 adults in Denmark showed that living alone carries a serious risk of heart disease. The subjects were followed from 2000 to 2002 and during that time 646 experienced severe angina, a heart attack, or sudden cardiac death. The two strongest predictors of these diagnoses, called acute coronary syndrome, were age and living alone. Women over the age of 60 and men over the age of 50, who lived alone, were twice as likely to have the syndrome as the other people. Although women over 60 who lived alone compromised only five percent of the studied group, they accounted for 30 percent of all deaths. Lone men over 50 were eight percent of the group, yet represented two thirds of the deaths.

In the Telegram UK:

Middle-aged men who reject family life and choose to live alone are more likely to die earlier than their married counterparts, UK Government figures published yesterday reveal.

They are also significantly more prone than married men to a variety of debilitating illnesses such as diabetes and rheumatism, said the study released by the Office for National Statistics.

The findings come against a backdrop of research which shows that married couples tend to enjoy better health than unmarried people.

Another study of 29 countries found that people who live alone are more likely to die young:

A four-year study of 45,000 people from 29 countries. Researchers found that those living solo under age 65 had a 21% greater chance of dying; in their study, 9.3% of those who had a roommate died within the four years, compared to 11.4% of those who had none. The researchers believe the main reason for the bump may simply be that being alone means there is no one around to help when something goes wrong, notes the Orlando Sentinel.

Although, to be fair, the same study found that after a certain age living alone was associated with longer life, but that could also be because older folks who are healthier are able to live alone and not move into assisted living for longer.

“but the hunch is if you make it to 80 and are independent, you’re doing pretty well.”

So, the bottom line of all of this? Think about splitting the rent with someone, even if you don’t technically need to.