When most people think of marriage, they think in the abstract. They think of vows and commitments, of love and loyalty. And they’re right. Marriage is a vow. It is a commitment. But gone are the days when you have to make a lifelong commitment just to ensure you have company as you age. Today, the National Institutes of Health assert that many widowed or single seniors are combating loneliness by choosing to live together rather than tie the knot, and there are some solid reasons behind that thinking.
Loneliness in the Elderly
According to a 2015 study published in the journal of Psychological Perspectives, loneliness poses just as great of a health risk factor for seniors as obesity or smoking. It’s a sobering idea, but there are also plenty of ways for elderly individuals to eliminate that loneliness risk factor, and marriage is only one of them.
If you or an aging loved one have thought of getting remarried after divorce or the death of a spouse, you might have discussed the financial repercussions of that decision. All of the following could be affected by remarriage:
- Social Security
- retirement savings
Marriage after 65 — and in even later years requires an unprecedented level of communication between not only the couple, but also their children and even grandchildren. For those who might not want to make that level of commitment but still want the level of companionship in marriage offers, living together presents an easier alternative to marriage.
As social convention has changed surrounding sexuality and marriage, the number of couples who live together but do not get married is expected to grow as the baby boomer generation ages. Today, 71% of baby boomers are no longer married, and 18% are widowed. But social attitudes aside, cohabitation is often a more financially viable option for seniors. There’s no need to discuss debts, inheritance issues, pension problems, or anything outside of daily living arrangements. However, cohabitation isn’t the only alternative to marriage for seniors looking to prevent loneliness.
To maximize both social and financial resources, some seniors group together to find housing with friends or neighbors. Sometimes shared housing also takes the form of adult foster care, which can give elderly individuals the atmosphere of family life and constant companionship. Seniors living together gives older adults someone to relate to and can also help them to maintain stronger feelings of independence while banishing loneliness.
Have you or a loved one considered remarriage or any of these alternatives? Which did you end up choosing and why? Share your stories below!