You’ve likely noticed that when it comes to older people, more women seem to live alone than older men. The Canadian government has noticed this, too. According to Statistics Canada, women over 65 are almost twice more likely to live alone than senior men and this includes 31 per cent of women over the age of 90.
It’s not surprising given that women have a longer life expectancy than men—explaining the two women for every man aged 85 and older reported by Statistics Canada in 2016! That ratio increases to five to one for centenarians!
The tendency to form partnerships/marry men who are slightly older also contributes to this. It’s also a known fact that older women aren’t as interested in finding a partner later in life and more prefer to go it alone than men, who are more likely to seek companionship regardless of age—often with a younger woman.
Regardless of how capable and independent a woman is, living alone as health and care needs change isn’t always easy. The size of our family and social networks decrease with age, especially for women living alone, many of whom report having fewer people they feel close to. As much as they may enjoy their independence, many women who alone report missing having people around and worry about the potential vulnerabilities they face as they age. Even those who enjoy financial stability and good health know that these circumstances can change quickly. Having a limited number of family and close friends means not having a potential caregiver to help when the need arises.
A lack of a support system to help with senior care needs isn’t the only issue for older women who find themselves without a social or family network. Loneliness is a real struggle that has mental and physical health implications and has been found to be a serious problem among seniors, especially those living alone.
Community is important and building connections and a support system is crucial, even if you’re enjoying single life as a senior. This can help combat loneliness and ensure that you have help when you need it.
Some ways to find support:
For those who are computer-savvy, the internet is a great place to find community groups and social clubs in your neighbourhood, including many geared at seniors. Senior centers also offer a variety of classes, workshops, and social events.
Enlisting professional home care services can also help for those who need assistance with things like household chores or getting to medical appointments. Home care agencies also have caregivers who can help with transportation to get you to and from social activities and community events, as well as joyful companionship if you spend a lot of time alone because of a limited social or family network.
Women are living longer and thriving well into their senior years. With a little extra support, you can continue to enjoy your independence and do the things you love, for longer and on your terms in a location where most seniors wish to be … at home.
David Porter, CPCA
Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care
Living Assistance Services offers a team of personal caregivers (PSW’S) to provide home health care, elder care, palliative care and chronic disease care all over southern Ontario.
We provide safe, trusted, compassionate senior home care where seniors want to be as they grow older–happily at home. Many home care services are available, including health/care assessments, personal care, meal prep, housekeeping and laundry, chronic disease care (Alzheimer’s, dementia, cancer, Parkinson’s) and palliative care.