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4 Powerful Ways to Succeed When Aging Alone

By Anthony Cirillo April 02, 2023 Mindset

Carol Marak, one of the Sixty and Me bloggers, is a speaker on the issue of aging alone.

Carol earned a Fundamentals of Gerontology Certificate from the USC Davis School of Gerontology and advocates on behalf of older adults and family caregivers. She simplifies elder care research into doable know-how and steps for family caregivers.

The statistics is staggering – some 15 million people in the U.S. are what Carol calls elder orphans. It struck her particularly after her parents passed and she realized she was one of those orphans, with no partner and no children to take care of her.

“Certainly, there must be others out there,” she thought. Indeed, 19 percent of women between ages 40 and 45 have no children, and 27 percent of the 65+ population live alone in the U.S. Here are some ways Carol started preparing to age alone.

Get Your Legal T’s Crossed and I’s Dotted

Before you go any further, make sure you are legally protected as you age. Do you have a will, an estate plan, a trust, a medical and financial power of attorney, an advance directive? No? Then you had better get busy. Evaluate and update these documents every few years. Things change.

Evaluate Your Circumstances

Are you in the best health you can be? Evaluate your eating habits. Are you a couch potato? Look at your exercise routine. Staying healthy is the key to aging in place, in your home – a thing most people want to do and financially have to do, in many cases.

Do you have an active social network? Carol says you need to surround yourself with people. In essence, this is like forming a ‘family’ to substitute for a spouse and children. Create a lifestyle that does not isolate you as isolation leads to depression.

Consider a Move

Carol lived in a suburban area where she needed a car to get around. She deliberately thought about it and decided to move to an urban area.

She loves to walk and can walk to all nearby locations. In turn, she is keeping fit by walking. And, she avoids the conversation of “what happens when I can’t drive anymore?”

You might consider a move even if you already live in an urban area. If your home isn’t suited for aging in place, you might need to find a place that will serve you better.

For example, Carol chose a flat in a high-rise condominium. It minimizes the steps she needs to take and has the potential of growing old with her. She advocates for more universal design that accounts for the needs of an aging population.

Be Mentally Active by Being Socially Active

Aging alone can lead to mental decline unless you consciously work on it. Even people in assisted living communities can be technically living alone if they do not get out and mentally stimulate themselves.

If you are engaged, that’s great, but perhaps you know someone in your community, high-rise or senior living, that is isolated. Engage them even just for brief conversations. “You would be surprised how helpful that is to people,” Carol says.

Join the Elder Orphan Facebook Group

Carol has created a Facebook group that people can join for mutual support. But she has taken that further and formed her own local group that physically meets in her community. Take that cue and do the same.

Her group has more than 10,000 members. Consider joining. She has some criteria by which she screens candidates so answer the few questions she poses. It will help her know you are a good fit for the group.

Being alone is not exclusive to older people. Carol believes that it really does take a community to help solve the issue.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you aging alone? If so, what are your plans for avoiding social isolation? How can you work to relieve the isolation of people in your community? Please share your thoughts and ideas below.

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It’s ok to be alone. It’s the way life turned out for us. There is plenty of opportunity for interaction, just in fulfilling everyday or weekly needs. Sometimes interaction is stressful and it’s easier to just be alone. When terminal illness or death arrive we’ll just have to trust in our community to do right by us. My plan is to continue to go on solo trips, cruises, tours, and to do all those things I like when and if I want to, like, go to church, go to a casino, go to a movie, treat myself to a nice restaurant once in a while, walk in the woods, lay on a beach… And if there’s any money left, give it to a proven animal welfare group.
Like my late, beautiful husband said to me shortly before he died, “You can’t be afraid.”

JE Santiago

Don’t know how to make friends and no realize the importance of this skill. Have siblings but sadly we are not communicative. Live in rural area in Southwest. So what does one do in this instance?

Valerie Stanol

As a socially awkward introvert, I am my most uncomfortable around people. My happiest homes were away from people. It’s probably the minority of people. I never hear any advice for people like me. Maybe there isn’t any since I’ll never be happier.


I’m with you, I love to be alone and I’m getting tired of constantly hearing about socializing as if if liking solitude is a fatal flaw!


Parallel play vs collaborative interaction. Doing activities in groups or hobbies less overwhelming compared to more intensive in-depth conversations – get going in some hobbies that have some interaction but not overwhelming.

Janie Bennett

Me also I love seeing people at the grocery etc… but I prefer alone and worry that I will one day wish I had a little social group or something.


Valerie, i am just like you. Socially awkward, I am happier in my own company, doing my own thing. I read that people live longer if married, etc etc, but that (being with someone else) is the last thing I want & I’d ratter be happy & die young (which I won’t!), I am tired of ads which promote “spending time with family”, “fun for all the family” etc. Go away! And holiday packages are priced “for two”. Fortunately some are now acknowledging that many people want to travel alone (without sharing with a stranger) & offer single prices (BUT the cost is always more than half the price for two). Even Sixty & Me (which I love) encourages joining groups/networking to avoid isolation. I’m alone at times, but never lonely. 😎🇦🇺

Janne Perry

I too wish that there were articles taking this into account. Many people enjoy their own company and even more so as they age. We are continually presented with information that says we shouldn’t be doing this, that we need to be socially interactive – if you have happily been this way all of your life, I see no need to change!

Susan V

I’m also a socially awkward introvert. I struggle socially but do get lonely at times since retiring last year. I would like to have 1 or 2 friends who I could see occassionally for short periods of time!

Susan Goodman

If I had stayed in Atlanta, I would’ve been alone. Instead, I moved to DC to be near one of my sons with his family and they include me in a lot of activities. I also have a group of friends that meets three afternoons a week for just an hour and a half. Originally it was just to discuss the co-op where we all lived but now we talk about many other things. In DC we have several villages, groups that are organized for a neighborhood and they do activities together, our local village more and more active. We also have senior programs that are funded by the city for exercise and food. I am super glad I moved to DC.


i go to the mailbox with my walker every morning and talk to people if i meet anybody. which is not always the case. but, at least i get exercise..margrit

The Author

Anthony Cirillo is founder of Sage Stream, the Senior Entertainment/Education Network and president of The Aging Experience, which helps people and companies prepare for aging before it becomes a crisis. A health and aging expert, professional speaker, and media influencer, he is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives with a master’s from the University of Pennsylvania. Anthony serves as a Policy RoundTable member for Nationwide Financial and Bank of America.

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