What if I Am On My Own?

What if I am on my own? The thought of retirement can be scary if you are on your own. You wonder who will look after me in my old age, will I be lonely?

You have the answer to these questions within you. You are the best person to find the answer for your circumstances in life.

You may find you are living on your own as you are beginning to think about and approach retirement. It can be daunting to wonder how will I cope if I am not at work every day where there are other adults for me to work and socialise with. It can be overwhelming at times.

Even if you have family, children or grandchildren, it is not always healthy for you to be fully immersed in their lives. They need their own space to mature and grow into wholesome human beings. Sometimes your family lives overseas or in another part of your country so it is not possible to have closely connected face to face interactions with them. With modern technology we can easily stay in touch and gauge some idea of how family members are going in dealing with their lives. That is quite different from you all living under the one roof.

Many prospective retirees tell me they worry about their adult children especially when the child or children have left the family home to set up their own home with or without a partner.  I think of my client, Liz who worried about her two adult children. Liz was especially worried about her adult son. He had married and had three children with his wife. The marriage was rocky but her son did not want divorce as an outcome of the difficult situation. To ease the tension in the marriage Liz would often purchase expensive gifts thinking that would make life easier for her son. After gifting and maintaining a car for her son and his family Liz realised, she could not keep doing that as she was facing an impending retirement on her own without a partner and worried about the drain of such gifts on her retirement funds. It was time to establish some boundaries. Besides in the long term it is better for the adult son to sort out his own finances, he had a well-paid job, along with the relationship with his wife.

Loneliness is a big problem in Western societies today. Here in Australia, it is seen as an ever-increasing social issue. In the 1950’s research reported loneliness can lead to poor psychological outcomes for people.  American Nurse Practitioner, Professor Laurie Theeke has shared her experience and knowledge on loneliness and says:

Loneliness can be a predictor for health issues:

Anxiety and depression

Cardiovascular disease

Functional decline in older adults

Suicide in younger populations.

In her research Prof Theeke has found people often feel ashamed of being lonely. It is normal to want to feel loved and belonging to society. The sense of shame comes from not achieving the sense of belonging.

Prof Laurie Theeke suggests the best way to manage loneliness is to report it to a health professional i.e., diagnose it and develop treatment plans to deal with it. It is common knowledge that being involved in creative pursuits/interests outside the family circle helps people feel more connected to society. If you are feeling alone, swallow your pride and ask for help.

Getting back to Liz, she faced up to her fear of being alone in her retirement and made some definite plans to gradually move into retirement without having to purchase expensive gifts for her son. Well done, Liz.

You may be feeling vulnerable as you are facing the prospect of moving into retirement without a supportive partner. It is possible to turn your retirement dreams into a reality.

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About Estelle Kelly

Estelle Kelly ACC is an Associate Certified Coach member of the International Coach Federation. Estelle has over twenty years of experience in the education and welfare sectors, and specialises in coaching her clients towards a happy and successful retirement.