Tuesday, March 28, 2017

States With Highest Proportion of Isolated Seniors Could Be Best Place to Age Alone

States With Highest Proportion of Isolated Seniors Could Be Best Place to Age Alone

Aging alone is a very popular topic and I find many articles that address issues like isolation, loneliness, and how staying connected and building friendships are the answer to living well. Recently at the Boston Globe, it published an inspiring piece about women without men and making their way alone. It’s true, women of all ages have grown up and more self-reliant than ever before in history. We support ourselves, have full time jobs, make major purchases, and even qualify for home mortgages, but for me, that’s not news, I’ve been doing all that since the early eighties.

Remember the Virginia Slims (cigarettes) tagline, “You’ve come along way, baby?” That was during the era when thousands of women found their wings. Today, those same women approach sixty-five or older, and most of us remain independent and determined. But our fierceness has more to do with aging well and not so much about proving ourselves. Who has energy for that? We have far more significant things to do like remain healthy and find suitable ways to age well.

Some things that older women want when aging alone are making close friendships, finding others to rely on, living under budget, hailing safe rides, eating well, attending fun activities, and being around like-minded. I suppose the older single men want the same things but in most cases more women than men live alone. For the record, the U.S. Census says close to 30 percent of the population 65 and over fall into the solo category, and of those over 60 percent are female.

States to Live if Alone

Recently, I was involved in the Census data that makes up the Seniorcare.com city guides. We found interesting statistics that involve older adults age 65 and over. The most significant point was the high number of residents across America living solo. So, we collated the data and found the top five states with the highest and lowest proportion of aging solos. See how the 50 states rank.

The Highest


State Percentage of Seniors Who Live Alone Percentage of Women Who Live Alone Percentage of Men Who Live Alone
#1. North Dakota 31.73%
of all seniors.
40.26%
women
20.66%
men
#2. Rhode Island 30.88%
of all seniors.
37.91%
women
20.82%
men
#3. Nebraska 30.54%
of all seniors.
38.95%
women
19.45%
men
#4. South Dakota 30.15%
of all seniors.
38.45%
women
19.42%
men
#5. Massachusetts 30.02%
of all seniors.
37.17%
women
20.02%
men

The Lowest


State Percentage of Seniors Who Live Alone Percentage of Women Who Live Alone Percentage of Men Who Live Alone
#1. Hawaii 18.95%
of all seniors.
22.58%
women
14.35%
men
#2. Utah 22.50%
of all seniors.
29.59%
women
13.95%
men
#3. California 24.09%
of all seniors.
29.80%
women
16.67%
men
#4. Arizona 24.49%
of all seniors.
30.77%
women
16.99%
men
#5. Texas 24.55%
of all seniors.
30.65%
women
16.68%
men

It’s my thinking, when growing older, you’ll want to make sure you hang around people closer to your age and circumstances to find support and people who will have your back. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should avoid younger individuals. Being around families and various ages will add fresh perspectives and flavor to one’s life. Otherwise, it may become ho-hum.

Case in point, my sister lives in Austin where 7 percent of the population are seniors. Early on, she noticed the upbeat Millennials, and, after a while, she recognized the noise that accompanied their entertainment venues, then the volumes of friends who joined in the fun, which ultimately grew tiresome and she became ready for peace and quiet. I for one choose to live among multi-generations, but I plan to pick and choose the dosage of exposure. And if that’s true for you, choose a state and city where there’s a balance of all ages.

A Good Plan Starts Here

Start with the basics. If you do not have nearby family, put the following long-term care planning strategies in place. The steps help improvise for no family members.

  • Draw up legal documents: a will, a living will, a healthcare proxy and a power of attorney. Find a loyal and trustworthy ally to stand for you as a surrogate or proxy. Just make certain you have unquestionable faith the person follows your wishes.

  • Find a “roof-mate” and share a home. Surround yourself with like-minded roommates and design a care plan that serves each resident equally if one needs help with daily living activities. HIre an attorney to draw up papers to outline responsibilities. It will make each party accountable.

  • Live close to public transportation.

  • Find a neighborhood that promotes shopping by foot.

  • Adopt a family to oversee your care. But make sure they’re trustworthy and reliable. Seek legal advice before signing anything.

  • If you have a chronic health condition, hire a patient advocate.

  • Eat fresh, healthy foods.

  • Exercise and stay fit.

  • Keep your brain active.

  • Volunteer.

  • Take up hobbies that fulfill your curiosity.

Other Considerations

When it comes to the home, health, and finances, stay in the driver’s seat. That’s why it’s important to plan early for retirement — and any future care. Planning for long-term assistance is one of the smartest decisions we make. When you do, benefits abound, and you will have:

  • More choices down the road.

  • Control of the health care decisions.

  • Less stress about the future.

  • Ability to help family and friends.

Learn About Medicare

It may surprise you but thousands of seniors 65 and younger have misleading thoughts about the program.

  • Only 11 percent understand what Medicare is and what it isn’t.

  • 60 percent know only a little.

  • 30 percent when within reach of qualifying for the health program have not researched it.

  • Nearly 43 percent don’t know where to go to learn about it.

  • 50 percent rely on other people to tell them what’s best.

  • 56 percent are not aware of the coverage options.

  • 61 percent never heard the term Medicare Part D.

One thing that’s certain, Medicare does not pay for every type of care a senior needs, especially long-term care. Nor does it pay for home health care or assisted living services. And if admitted to the hospital for less than three days, the health program will not pay the acute care bill.

Find Resources

I suggest you start with the Seniorcare.com city guides. Look for your state, then city, and click on the Helpful Contacts in the far left menu. Additional resources to check out, especially when living alone:

Elder Orphan Facebook Group - The group launched over a year ago and it’s name derived from medical research. Members speak freely of their concerns and challenges. If you’re aging alone, the group offers support and guidance for over 4,000 people.

#AgingVoices - A twitter hashtag campaign developed to share stories, news, and resources for the senior population. Follow us @Seniorcarequest & @Carebuzz.

SeniorCare.com Senior Guides - over 8000 local senior guides that give healthcare quality ratings, senior housing options and other useful data for aging Americans.

Connect2Affect - The AARP Foundation spearheaded the website for seniors living alone and dealing with isolation. The goal is to create a network of resources that meets the needs of anyone isolated or lonely, and helps them build social connections.

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging- The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. The local AAAs provide aging and disability resources to the communities they serve.

NCOA.org - Energy Assistance | Benefits - The National Council on Aging several benefits programs can help with energy assistance needs.

Aging involves many people. If we live solo and age alone, it's important to assemble our support team. But often we think of our support team as people. I encourage and challenge yourself to think about the community as a whole. How will the people and community serve you?

Give consideration to where you live and the nearby amenities, then ask, “Will my needs be met?” Do you have access to public transportation, affordable housing, social connection, medical facilities, entertainment, and activities that keep you active and able to age in place?

As one ages, the individual views successful aging as a balance between self-acceptance and self-contentedness on one hand and engagement with life and self-growth in later life on the other. Maintaining this wise perspective is a major contributor to aging well, even if alone.

Author -  Carol Marak

- By Carol Marak

Carol Marak, aging advocate, syndicated columnist, and editor at Seniorcare.com. She earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology. Carol ages alone and shares her experiences with followers via Next Avenue, Huffington Post, and over 40 newspapers nationwide.


Sources

Sixty-five Plus in the United States,” Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Senior Isolation - Ranking the 50 States,” SeniorCare.com.

Smaller Share of Women Ages 65 and Older Are Living Alone” February 18, 2016, Pew Research Center.