Older adults are seeking (and finding) love, emotional support and an antidote to loneliness. But many older women, in particular, fear that a romantic attachment in later life will shortly lead to full-time caregiving. To avoid this role, some seek to meet their social needs solely from their relationships with family members and friends.
Older adults are taking advantage of the flexibility afforded by unmarried Partnerships, including cohabitation (Calasanti & Kiecolt, 2007). A growing share does not seem to feel compelled to remain coupled. Long-term marriages are increasingly ending through divorce and most individuals who call it quits are not repartnering (Brown, Lin, Hammersmith, & Wright, 2016). Using Census data, we establish how levels of marriage, cohabitation, and divorce have shifted over time among older adults, documenting the drops in marriage and widowhood and the increases in divorce and cohabitation for men and women.
Finding Your Identity
For you and your adult kids, your transition to retirement might stir up myriad emotions and concerns. This is likely the first time in your adult life that you haven’t been in the workforce. Many people’s identities are wrapped in their careers; now that you’re retired, you might feel adrift. Your adult children, having viewed you through the lens of your career for their entire lives, might feel the same.
Retiring can alter your identity, Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile notes. Take the time you need to restructure and recognize that you’re in a new phase of life, then talk about how it might influence your parent-child relationship.
As with any successful relationship, your relationship with your adult children benefits from clear boundaries. After all, you’re all adults now. Setting healthy boundaries gives you and your kids the freedom to interact and keeps communication flowing.
Common areas or topics helped by clear boundaries include giving and receiving unsolicited advice, unannounced visits, overdependence from adult children, and any area of interpersonal interaction that helps maintain a sense of control for you and your kids.
Consider your retirement an opportunity to restart your relationship with your adult children, and find ways to bond socially and emotionally. Your adult kids might have the busier schedules these days, but finding time to spend time together is worth it.
When you’re retiring single, your lifestyle might shift dramatically, especially if your pre-retirement identity was built around your career. Yet by making conscientious lifestyle choices, you can embrace your new lifestyle and meet your physical, mental and emotional needs.
- Physical Health: Stay physically fit by trying a new light physical activity, such as walking, tennis, gardening or yoga. Keep your mental abilities sharp by taking up a new hobby, such as crosswords or card games, or by taking an online course or volunteering.
- Mental Health: Establish or maintain social connections by joining a club, volunteering or spending time with extended family, either in person or using a video chat app like Zoom or FaceTime. Sign up for activities and events at your local senior center. Single senior women can also get support from organizations such as The Transition Network, a national organization with chapters across the country.
- Emotional Health: Some retirees decide to adopt a pet for companionship. Pets like small dogs can give single retirees a companion and a reason to get outdoors every day. And if you live in a city or suburb with dog parks or trails, this can be a great way to meet other like-minded people and build a community.
We’re here to help
Be proactive about financial planning to make sure that your needs will be covered during retirement. Take good care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally to maximize your independence and health (and minimize your health care costs) in retirement. If you can create a sound retirement budget, stick to a daily routine and maintain your social network, you can make retirement the most fulfilling time of your life.
We are here to help. Contact an agent today to help you understand your current retirement and to help plan your future.
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