Do you know how to live alone? People are living longer today, which makes deciding where they will want to live a relevant issue. Living with others versus living alone often comes down to personal preference.
Some people are more “people oriented” than others. Young people of our generation were eager to strike out on their own, but economic constraints have made it more difficult for young adults today. Regardless, you spend most of your life surrounded by other people. Many of you went directly from living with parents and siblings to sharing quarters with others in college. After college it was, more often than not, financially prudent to share apartments or houses with friends. You probably stayed there until you moved in with a spouse or partner to create a home of your own. Later in life the situation changes as more and more people, particularly women, find themselves living alone. It is quite an adjustment especially if it is a first time experience. No matter why you are living alone you will face many challenges.
The number of singles who opt to “age-in-place” tells us that many older people like living alone. Although most enjoy spending time with others, they spend the majority of their days alone. Is this a bad thing?
Can solitary activities, beyond simply passing time, contribute to a person’s sense of well-being? Is it time to enjoy being quiet and introspective? I knew a gentleman who declared that he had been “busy all of his life and didn’t want to do anything now.” Was he a recluse? Perhaps, but after years of nonstop activity he felt he had the right to scale back his activities and focus on himself.
What do seniors living alone do with their time? Common solitary activities are discussed by Meika Loe (www.colgate.edu/facultysearch/FacultyDirectory/meika-loe) in her book “Aging Our Way”, in which she writes about living at home and mostly alone.” Activities considered include: growing in faith, consuming media, immersion in books, playing games, caring for the body, embracing creativity and learning how to reflect and enjoy balance in ones life.
Why do we regard living alone and loving it with suspicion? Few people living alone complain about being lonely because for the first time in their lives they are at liberty to do what they please. The can eat when they want, sleep when they want and watch whatever television programs they want.
Our society admires "busyness". Slowing down is not a trait much admired, but taking time for oneself can be liberating. A senior sometimes has to fight to be allowed to slow down. Not everyone who lives alone is lonely, but those who are lonely can become anxious and depressed. There may be a fine line between enjoying ones own company and being too quiet and too much alone. What do you do to find balance in your life?