7 Survival Strategies For The Single Senior
Becoming a Senior citizen often involves making difficult adjustments to our lives. As a 64-year young, successful, single senior, I offer these seven strategies to help add quality to your active and independent single senior living.
Long marriages may end with a divorce or the death of a lifetime partner. Long relationships bring strong attachments to the spouse, your identity as their spouse, many memories and sentimental items in often a large home. Grieving any major loss takes and needs time to heal. But there comes a time when it is time to start a new life.
1. Get Going
It is not uncommon after a loss or even as we get older that leaving our homes for trips becomes more difficult. Thinking about our life and memories may seem like a safer mental outing than physically venturing out into the uncertainty of the big world.
That anxiety may cause an attack of the “Whatifs,” as Shel Silvertein described them in his poem of that name. Whatifs such as: “What if I get sick? What if I don’t like the food at that restaurant? What if I run out of money on the trip? What if the bed is too hard? What if it rains the whole time I am there? What if I forget something?
How do you overcome Whatifs? Just stop thinking about what might happen and make plans for good things to happen.
“Just DO it!” Remember: nothing in life, even at home, is perfect all of the time. Being able to use creativity, adaptability and a sense of humor can help you adapt when plans go askew and are true survival traits.
Getting out for a few hours everyday can increase your confidence to the point where later you may be able to handle longer trips away from home. Someday you may venture out for a full day trip. On day trips always go with a good friend or family member, it is more fun and safer that way too.
2. Get a Smaller Home
If you are alone in a big house, I highly suggest moving to a condominium or apartment. After four years alone in my three bedroom house with a high upkeep yard I realized I was spending money that I could be spending on other things.
I sold my house and bought a condo with keypad entry into the building, providing safety and preventing salesmen and intruders.
Another possibility is an apartment complex or community for seniors. They offer wonderful options for security, fellowship with others of similar age, and often a bus pick up or even transportation for those living there.
3. Get Used To Your Own Company
Learn to enjoy your own company. No one knows you like you do. Go out by yourself sometimes for lunch. Even if you are an introvert you may enjoy interacting with new people.
Giving and receiving smiles may offer a boost to your morale too. You never know who you might run into at a restaurant, movie, or even a trip to a museum.
When you go out alone, if you do not enjoy being around people, then bring a book or electronic book; look at social media on your smart cell phone, sit outside if it is pleasant and observe nature. And remember to smile! This is your life!!
4. Get to Know Your Friends (Old and New)
You know those trips I spoke of? Who better to go places with than old friends? I have several friends who are ten years younger than I am. When one is not available for lunch or an outing another one usually is. People frequently tell me I look 10 years younger than I am. I wonder why?? Sometimes we may lose contact with old friends as some move on. Others may pass away, so spend your time wisely.
Make new friends. Find groups who enjoy similar interests to yours. Volunteer at the library, museum, nearest school, even senior center. Take classes at the senior center or community college. Help someone else and your life will get better.
5. Get a Pet or Two
I can not fully convey how wonderful having a pet can be.
After my husband’s death I was alone in the three bedroom house for a year before I was given my first cat. Although I thought I was a dog person I found that cats were best suited to my go-go life. They are independent and easy to care for. When I was given one cat and adopted another, I was truly amazed at how much company and entertainment they gave me.
Pets will curl up in your lap, give you attention, stay with you when you are sad or sick. They will listen attentively to what you are saying whether they understand you or not.
Be wary of small pets getting under your feet though. You have to train them when you get them not to walk in front of you. If you just want a little extra life in your home some people have parakeets, even little mice or ferrets can be great company.
6. Simplify Your Life
Over the years we tend to collect items which were treasures when we bought them. Later they may become less important but we keep them, thinking maybe the kids will want them some day. When I decided to move to my new home, the heat was on to really trim the fat! So I donated many dust-collecting “space savers” that my kids didn’t want. I still have things to weed out but there is no rush now.
7. Make Your Home Yours
After living in a house where things were spread out, I accustomed myself to using shelves and closet space in my new home. I bought new things that were more useful, my favorite colors, and decor more to my tastes. I made my home MINE! I chose colors, atmosphere and furniture which expressed peace and calmness. It feels so good to have my own where new memories that are mine can begin.