Nightmares of dying alone and being discovered half eaten by pets may haunt you. TV and movies are probably to blame. The likelihood of a single or married person dying alone hasn’t been studied, but it’s not probable unless their death is sudden. It can happen whether you’re single or in a relationship. All of us spend part of our days in solitary pursuits. Married people sleep in different bedrooms. Some live and work in separate parts of the world. Children often make their homes far away from their parents. Even if they do live nearby, they’ve their own lives to manage. We don’t want to live with them and they wouldn’t be too pleased to have us live in their homes either. The truth is, single Baby Boomers step up and take care of parents or other family members when they’re ill. We’re also the ones who step in when our friend’s family isn’t available, so we want to remain vital as long as possible. After that we should have plans in place to make sure we can live in comfortable surroundings with as little assistance and dependency on others as possible.
No one wants to think about their own demise or that of others, but according to a survey completed in 2012 by the McKinsey Global Institute, 46% of Boomers aged 65 and above will be unmarried by 2015 creating 21 million unmarried households. The same age group had only 10 million in 1985. According to AARP statistics, 88% of women were once married, but now 41% are either widowed or divorced. They may not be prepared to handle issues related to health care and dying
I was one of the lucky ones who always had insurance through my job. It even carried over until I hit 65. Then I had to figure out Medicare and decide which supplemental and prescription plans were the best for me. I’d taken care of all of my money matters for many years, but this was an area where I couldn’t count of my financial advisor or accountant. I had to do all of the research myself.
Retirement and aging are phases of life that can be difficult to handle if you’re not prepared. If you want to stay active, involved, and cared for in your later years, you need a plan. Over a 6 year period The National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, funded a British study which found “isolation leads to a higher mortality rate than feeling lonely did among the 6,500 elderly British people”. Their results on retired Americans reinforced multiple studies that link loneliness to potential fatal illnesses, including heart trouble and high blood pressure. This was reported in an article titled “Which is worse, isolation or loneliness?” by Geoffrey Mohan in the March 26, 2013 issue of the “LA Times”. http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/26/science/la-sci-heb-isolation-death-20130325.
Assisted living and nursing homes are located in every community and home health care is available, if you can pay for it. To find out where you can afford to retire, go to http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/LTCC.html to compare rates in different states for different levels of care. I found I could stay where I was, but not move back to the state where the majority of my family has always lived or to where my son and his wife currently reside. Before I retired I did some research and moved to a state with the lifestyle I want that didn’t have state income tax, but had a low cost of living. I’ve met friends and we help each other out when needed. I’m hopeful we can continue to participate in activities that’ll keep us entertained and intellectually active in later life. If you haven’t decided how to spend your life after retirement, I advise you start now.
If you’re faced with a death in your family or even your own, Hospice provides end of life support for anyone who needs it in their home or long-term facility. It’s covered by Medicare Part A, Medicaid, and most medical insurances. Families and friends of the patients also receive support with care and decision making. Http://www.hospicenet.org/ offers information on a wide variety of subjects dealing with how to handle your death or the passing of others.
As I write this blog, a commercial for retirement planning is on TV. Have you noticed how many ads focus on life insurance and health issues? The needs of Baby Boomers have always been an enormous money maker for all industries. Now, as we age, their emphasis has changed from feminine hygiene to incontinence and from birth control to sexual dysfunction with a few final resting place commercials thrown in for good measure. It’s enough to make me want to quit watching network TV and only watch Netflix.
Orson Welles said, “We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” If we enjoy a single lifestyle what matters most is how we spend our time on earth. Concentrate on spending it connecting with others and delight in every day without constant worries about your final hours.
Continue the adventure.