The Art of Living Alone

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. September 25, 2016

The Art of Living Alone

A 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center found some interesting differences in lifestyle and comfort between seniors (adults over the age of 65) who live alone and seniors who live with others. Published in February 2016 and written by Renee Stepler, Well-being of older adults living alone reported that living alone posed several disadvantages for seniors.

In this blog, let’s take a look at these disadvantages and some ways to help yourself or a loved one overcome them. This is from my perspective – and I do recognize and respect all of the different paths that we each have traveled to get where we are today.

Financial Issues

Older adults living alone are less likely to say they are financially comfortable than those living with others. In fact, from census data, Pew reports that older Americans who live alone are about three times as likely as those who live with others to be poor.

Among older Americans who live alone, 1.6 million women live in poverty compared with 600,000 men. However, older women in any living arrangement are more likely to be impoverished than older men.

Safety In Place (SIP) view: If you are still mentally and physically able, get a job. If not, then be sure that you are accessing the assistance that is available to you, such as Meals on Wheels.

Social Issues

  1. Number of Friends. Among older adults who live alone, there are striking differences between men and women when examining key aspects of their social lives. In general, older men who live alone are considerably more likely to experience social isolation than women who live alone.

… men who live alone are considerably less likely than men who live with others (and women in any living arrangement) to say they are very satisfied with the number of friends they have.

Safety In Place (SIP) view: If you are older and want more friends (whether you live alone or with others), there are many ways to interact with more people. For example, there are around 15,000 senior centers across the country that offer a variety of social activities for adults over the age of 50 -


  1. Relations with Children and Grandchildren. Older adults living alone are somewhat less likely than older adults living with others to be in contact or to spend time with their children and grandchildren.


Safety In Place (SIP) view: Children and grandchildren may not know how often to contact or visit their parents or grandparents. Our advice? Ask. Talk about it. Open up the conversation and be truthful about your feelings.

From the children and grandchildren perspectives, check out our blog: How to Help Your Parents or Grandparents

From the elderly parent and grandparent perspective, check out this blog: Talking About Aging- 5 Steps to Starting the Conversation

  1. Older adults living alone are less likely than those who live with others to say they spend more time on hobbies or volunteer activities as they age. And in some cases, this is particularly true for men who are living solo.

Safety In Place (SIP) view: Although I am not sure why living alone has anything to do with spending more or less time on hobbies and volunteer activities, we published a blog a few weeks ago that lists some of the activities that I love: Photography and Other Hobbies as We Grow Older. Perhaps one or more of these ideas may inspire you to get involved a little more in doing things you love and in loving to do things to help others.

The Pew survey results seem to paint those seniors who live alone with a rather sullen brush. Seniors who live alone are more likely to be poor, have fewer friends, interact less frequently with children and grandchildren and are less involved in hobbies or volunteer activities.

Because I live alone and am almost a senior, a felt a bit remorseful about my fellow “live-aloners.” Or should we use the term, lone wolves?

I choose to live alone, and frankly, I love it.

I would especially be grateful to hear from other senior lone wolves on their perspectives about whether they enjoy living alone or with others. And more specifically what they like about living alone or with others. Do the Pew results surprise you?

In the meantime, I hope I have given you a few ideas on ways to make living alone less lonely.

Personally, l am relishing the art of living alone. How about you?


Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.


Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.