Are you retiring single? If so, you're in good company. According to the Pew Research Center, 23% of Americans 60 or older live alone — that's 16.7 million people. There are lots of resources aimed at couples who retire, but some aspects of retirement planning are especially important to people who retire single.
Maybe you've chosen to remain single as an adult. Maybe you've gone through a divorce, or maybe your spouse has died. Whatever the case, planning for retirement on your own doesn't have to be daunting. There are many resources and a lot of support and actionable advice online and in real life to help you enjoy a successful and happy retirement as a single person.
Here's some information about financial planning, health considerations, and how to best enjoy your lifestyle when retiring single.
Financial Planning as a Single Retiree
Although you're planning for retirement as a single person, you don't need to do it alone. Communicate regularly with your financial advisor to ensure that your retirement will be financially stable — for you and any of your beneficiaries.
Check off the following action items as part of your retirement financial planning:
- Forecast the length of your retirement using a longevity calculator.
- Book an investment review with a financial advisor to get an idea of what sort of monthly income you can expect based on your life expectancy. Review your expected income, your Social Security benefits, and your retirement savings income. If you've been divorced or widowed, you might be able to claim Social Security earlier than expected.
- Revisit your insurance. Not just your life insurance, but also your disability insurance and long-term care insurance. Review your health insurance, too, to see what kind of health issues you're covered for in retirement.
- Draw up a new retirement household budget based on your income.
- Create or update your will, and name new beneficiaries on any accounts as needed.
Health Considerations When Retiring Single
Another important consideration for retirees, especially those retiring single, is health and wellness. Planning for your physical, mental and emotional well-being could save you money on health care costs and help you enjoy a more fulfilling retirement.
Schedule Regular Physical Activity
To maximize your physical health, add regular exercise to your daily retirement schedule. Follow a healthy diet that includes all food groups, and attend regular checkups with your physician, dentist and optometrist.
Maintain Your Mental and Emotional Health
Your mental and emotional health are also especially important when you're living on your own in retirement. New hobbies can keep you mentally sharp. It's also important to safeguard your emotional well-being by being mindful of social media, current events and gossip that could cause emotional stress.
Maintain Social Connections
Maintaining social connections with your friends, family and community is also important when you live on your own. According to the Pew Research Center, people 60 and older who live alone reported that they spend about 10 1/2 hours on their own every day. To avoid isolation, which could leave you feeling depressed, schedule time with others every week. Whether you're meeting in person or via a phone call or video call, the social connection will help you feel better.
Consider a Retirement Community
If you're retiring single and the idea of living alone doesn't sound appealing, you could move into a retirement community instead of aging in place. Though this can be a big lifestyle change, it might be a good option for extroverted single retirees looking for a simple way to become part of a community.
Enjoying Your Lifestyle as a Single Retiree
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.
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.
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.
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.
Your Retirement Is Up to You
Remember: Just because you are or will be retiring single, it doesn't mean you are alone. You have a support network in your friends, financial advisors, health care professionals and the clubs and organizations you belong to.
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.