Books about handling the ups and downs of being single in old age (age 50+)

Are there books for people who are single in their later years that discuss the challenges and benefits of that lifestyle?

Benefits would be things like more privacy, more freedom, more disposable income (if childless)

Drawbacks would be social isolation, worse health, social stigma and ridicule, higher housing/utility costs (since you aren’t sharing a home with someone who pays half the bills), etc.

Any books or articles that have an honest discussion about this lifestyle choice, the positives and negatives as well as advice on how to exploit the benefits and compensate for the negatives?

By single I mean genuinely single. Not cohabitation and unmarried, or having a partner in a separate residence. I mean no romantic attachments.

I don’t know books and articles, but to me there’s really just one thing that ought to dominate the discussion. Money is money, more of it is better than less, ho hum no surprise there. The big thing is that without a romantic partner you NEED to spend a lot of time and energy forming vibrant and unbreakable ties to society. Not becoming an accidental recluse is the one thing I think an older single person MUST ensure, by whatever means suit them. IMO the rest is gravy.

Agent 99 wrote one:

Just a note: 50+ is NOT “old age”. “Old age” is somewhere between 10-15 years in the future - take it from this 70 year old.

My Daddy lived until his late 80s, alone. He was single since my Mother died in the 1978. He was still working, active and involved. He would be 90 this year. Don’t count yourself out so early. Make friends, get out. Take care of your health. When you get to a point when you can’t live alone anymore you can move into assisted living or have in home care. Do you not have any family?

One of my now late neighbors never married and, as far as I know, was never in any kind of romantic relationship. She lived alone in her family’s house. She loved to garden. After she retired she volunteered at several area concerns. She wasn’t home very often.

We are both 50+ with no children nor family/extended family in the immediate area. When we’re not exhausted from our respective jobs we go out as much as possible, whether it’s for dinner or to the movies, meeting up with friends, etc. We also have dogs and have met many of our neighbors because of them. We’re regulars at our local “nice” restaurant. We’re living life as much as we can for as long as we can.


ETA: Some of us have no family. I have no children, siblings, parents, or extended family.

Pretty bleak outlook. Not having a partner/family doesn’t mean someone is alone.


Yes, money is important. We all need money. But if you have friends and your health you can get by with surprisingly little material wealth. (Of course, with money more is generally better than less)

Surprisingly - yes, some of us have little or no family. I’m in my 50’s and I’m down to just one living sibling, a niece, and a nephew (I do have a nephew #2, but he suffered a severe brain injury and will never be able to live independently and care for himself, much less an aging aunt). I know people who genuinely have no living relatives.

Of course, this gets back to “make friends, get out” - if you don’t have blood relatives then make friends and create a family that way.

Assisted living and/or in home care only goes so far. They’re helpful, but assisted living can severely crimp your ability to get out and have a social life (of course, being feeble enough to require assisted living can do that, too). In home care can be terribly expensive (and there’s another reason why more money is better than less money) and doesn’t take the place of a social life.

In actual fact, most of my older friends employ a patchwork of things - some get in-home help with chores. Some need someone to do the driving for them now. A person might not be able to drive, but able to maintain their home. Or they can drive, but due to mobility issues and frailty need a handyman type to help with the home. Having a network of friends helps immensely with this - somebody will know somebody who can do this, that or the other thing, or has navigated a social service to get something, and so forth. Which is why “make friends, get out” is just as important as having lots of money. And if you don’t have lots of money it’s even more important.

Being in my 50’s I feel I can say I’m middle aged - being newly single, and the reason for it, has been stressful. But since I’m not in a frame of mind for “romantic attachments” lack of dating opportunities isn’t worry at the moment. I do have more time for my own interests, although I miss having someone to share some of those things with.

The reality is that having friends is not the same as having family.

I have plenty of friends who I see on a regular basis. But when I’m in my eighties, none of them is going to step forward and take care of me if I’m no longer able to take care of myself.

My parents are in their eighties. My father can’t drive and needs constant help to get around in his own home. My mother is in better shape but she needs help from my siblings and me.

I worry about them. But I also worry about myself when I am someday in their position. I’m not married and I have no children. Nobody will be helping me the way that my parents are being helped. They wouldn’t be able to live without assistance. I don’t know what I will do when I’m in the same situation.

This times 1,000.

So are there any books??

The closest I can find is Bella DePaulo. She has written several books on the subject.

This concerns me too. It sounds trite but I’m hoping robotics has advanced enough at that point that this isn’t a major issue. Plus there are always home health aides.

Hey, I’m in my 50s with almost no family, too.

I don’t find myself worrying about that (and in some ways, I think it’s a bit unfair to expect family members to care for you in your dotage.)

I’m holding out hope that by the time I actually start having trouble taking care of myself there will be easily available options for me to check myself out. I don’t see what purpose I’d serve being a drain on others.

I know the feeling. If you don’t have kids (or nieces and nephews or grandkids) that can/will help (and I agree with others that parent shouldn’t count on it), you need more money put away for assisted living or some such. By and large not having children means having more money when you are younger (though a married couple will, all else being equal, come out with more money than two singles), so we need to invest and/or save to try to help our future situations, and will still likely end up leaving our own homes earlier, on average. Though, of course, assisted living and nursing homes are very expensive, and its likely many will run out money before running out of life.

I don’t have kids, but I have to say that getting older and losing my independence would be a scary though either way. I’m seeing it in my grandmothers now (grandfathers both deceased). And one has dementia. And that is something that scares me a lot. Both in being int the position of my parents/uncle (taking care of elderly parent) and even more in being in the position of my grandmothers.

Even if you do have family there is no guarantee they’ll help you. If you’re relying solely on the goodwill of your relatives I suggest you come up with a backup plan, just in case.

To me “old” will always be somewhat older than I am. That definition never changes even as the number does. :slight_smile:

I have no resources that meet the op’s request but yeah 65 to to 74 is now “young old” 75 to 84 “middle old” and 85+ “old old”. 60 is not old. Okay a quick google finds this one but odds are you want something someone can vouch for.

The risk of social isolation and loneliness is the big downside I’d think. But I’ve seen some (older women mostly) isolated more by the demands of caring for a declining spouse who is no longer a real partner. So it can cut both ways I’d guess.

But 50+ is a perfectly good time to say “Well? What IS my life possibly going to be like in 10-20-30 years? Do I need to do something to change that?”

You can’t make all your plans happen, but you can make all your plans.