Whether it’s by choice or circumstance, many older adults find themselves living alone as they enter their 60s and beyond.
In fact, 27% of Americans aged 60 and over are living alone. And only about a dozen other countries in the world have such a high percentage of older adults living alone.
But is that necessarily a bad thing?
It definitely doesn’t have to be.
Living alone after 60 doesn’t have to equate with loneliness or isolation — it’s all about how you choose to leverage it.
With that in mind, let’s go over seven ways you can embrace the solo lifestyle and thrive in your 60s and beyond.
#1 Practice Mindfulness
Whether you’re living alone or your home is bustling with people, mindfulness can benefit you in so many ways.
Practicing mindfulness is proven to reduce loneliness and isolation by allowing individuals to develop an appreciation of their experience in the present moment. It can also help you build beneficial practices that increase emotional regulation and cultivate greater resilience.
Fretting about which mindfulness activity to pursue? Fret no more.
It doesn’t matter which mindfulness practice you pick as long as you like it enough to stick with it consistently.
Whether it’s journaling, meditating, tai chi, chi gong, yoga, walking in the woods, or taking a hot bath, a consistent mindfulness practice grounds you enough to connect with yourself and learn to trust yourself to make the right decisions.
Plus the daily ritual and consistent self-care will wire your brain to believe inside and out that you truly matter — a self-esteem-building belief that the majority of the globe needs to hear more often.
When it comes to living solo, engaging in mindfulness opens up the possibility for living alone to be seen as both an empowering decision and a time for important daily reflection — to truly take control of your sense of self and life with deep confidence and autonomy.
#2 Create Healthy Routines
After a lifetime of juggling family, work, or school, there are many upsides and downsides to finally getting the peace and quiet you’ve been craving. To face living solo in retirement head-on, it’s essential to create good routines that keep you healthy and happy.
It’s oh-so-easy to order takeout all the time, stay up until the wee hours of the night, watch TV, get sucked into scrolling social media, or maybe your guilty pleasure is playing word games.
Regardless of what distracts you the most, routines have a way of promoting wellness no matter what your living situation looks like. Habits provide structure to your day-to-day life and drastically cut down the amount of decision fatigue by eliminating minor decisions from our daily lives.
Which means — with healthy habits and routines in place, you’ll automatically decide to do things that support your mental and physical well-being without spending energy on making decisions.
We’re raging fans of building healthy routines, especially if you’re shocking your system going from a busy career and family life to a totally open structured retirement — so if you’re ready to start creating positive habits, check out these resources on how to create an ideal:
When living alone after 60, focus on setting up systems that feed your unique body, mind, and soul. What healthier way to navigate life’s new curveballs than by doing it with intention and the structure to support it?
#3 Identify When You Feel Lonely
We all know that feeling… for some, it’s in the morning and for others, it might hit you at night, but the loneliness creeps in.
It’s essential to identify when you’re feeling low — so you can take proactive steps to turn that emotion into positive action.
Recognizing the signs of loneliness as soon as they arise gives you the chance to take quicker action — an effective way to make sure those depressing solitary moments don’t linger too long.
And also knowing the difference between loneliness and isolation is crucial in living alone when you’re over 60. While being alone can feel lonely, it doesn’t have to be isolating. Knowing the difference helps you decide when and how to change your behavior.
What’s more, being aware of your emotional state allows you to find practical and creative solutions to alleviate your loneliness.
Yes, it’ll be a heavier lift, in the beginning, to snap into action. But eventually (and with enough consistency and practice), you come to understand that loneliness is temporary. Recognizing it equips you with better insight into yourself and the power to make positive changes.
To sum up, living alone after 60 doesn’t have to mean living a sad, solitary life when you’re tuned into the nuances of your emotions. Knowing the difference between isolation and loneliness and your triggers for each will help.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to turn this knowledge into action. Let’s draw up a game plan with tip number four…
#4 Stay Connected
We thrive off of social connection, which is a vital part of our mental and physical health. Studies show that people living alone are at a higher risk for physical and mental health problems.
And living alone makes you more susceptible to loneliness, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit in it. And everyone is different, and so are our needs for connection — which is why it’s so important to find out what works best for you.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, what matters is that you have people in your life who can offer support and understanding of your unique needs.
Seek out ways to stay connected and engaged, like reaching out to your neighbors, striking up a conversation at the grocery store, reconnecting with old friends, or joining a Meetup group with people who share similar interests — it all counts.
And staying connected is easier than ever these days. Especially after the pandemic, there are plenty of ways to stay connected online or through video. You just need to do your part in making it a priority to regularly reach out and nurture your social life, particularly if you’re feeling loneliness creep in.
#5 Keep It Clean
When living alone, particularly after 60, it can become too easy to let motivation slip for doing housework and chores. But it’s worth the decluttering effort.
Living in a cluttered and untidy environment can be both dangerous and unhealthy (not to mention incredibly stressful) which is why it’s so important to keep on top of your physical possessions.
Research confirms that having too much stuff can be a real source of stress in your life — home clutter and overflowing closets directly correlate with higher stress levels.
Simply put, physical clutter = mental clutter.
When you remove clutter, there’s space available for clarity, and focusing on things that truly matter to you. We consistently see firsthand how amazing growth, creativity, adventure, and wonderful things come from decluttering.
And once you’ve got things cleared, here are a few reasons why keeping it clean is so important especially when you’re living on your own. It:
- Helps you feel more in control of your environment and like you have a handle on things
- Boosts your mood because a clean home is a happy home
- Physically protects your health, when literally your surfaces are sanitized
Your home is your sanctuary, especially when you live by yourself, so keep it organized, clean, and clutter-free with these six tips.
#6 Consider a Companion
We’re not talking about a partner — a furry or leafy friend can make all the difference when you’re living alone.
Pets provide companionship, make you happier, reduce stress, and they can even help keep you safe (like if you have a dog that barks at stranger danger). And pets also encourage physical activity and socialization, like when you take your pet out into the community.
Bonus tip: if you can’t adopt a pet long-term consider fostering one or signing up to pet sit — where you can even earn a couple of extra bucks.
Of course, not everyone is a pet person. They require time, attention, and extra expenses.
So if you don’t want the hassle or are not an animal lover, get some plants to take care of. It might sound silly, but there’s actually a lengthy list of health benefits that studies have found for people who take care of house plants — from emotional and mental benefits to having cleaner air.
All in all, whether it’s a dog, cat, or snake plant, taking care of someone (or something) in a non-taxing non-draining way gives you a sense of purpose and contribution.
#7 Pursue Your Passions
Living alone after 60 is actually a great time to start pursuing your passions and hobbies.
Whether that means starting a blog, learning a language or instrument, taking up photography classes, or even starting an Etsy store — you’re never too old to explore and challenge yourself.
In fact, studies have shown that people who engage in meaningful activities, like having a hobby or volunteering, tend to live longer and have more successful health outcomes.
And beyond the physical benefits of hobbies are the mental ones. Research has also found that people who pursue their passions often experience improved self-esteem and mood. Engaging in activities you find fun, meaningful, and exciting will give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment in retirement.
The key is doing the inner work first — going inward for the answers rather than looking to peers or others for ideas. Finding activities you’re uniquely passionate about will give you an intrinsic motivation to stick with (and master) them.
We all need something to look forward to, and engaging in activities that bring creativity, joy, and a sense of mastery can help make living alone after 60 redefine what aging looks like.
Living alone after 60 can be a major life change that can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be lonely or isolating.
With a bit of effort and inner work, you can create a safe, comfortable, and fulfilling home environment where you enjoy your freedom and continue to thrive.
Instead of just surviving, make the most out of living alone after 60 with our seven tips:
- #1 Practice mindfulness — by taking the time to focus on being present and totally aware, you can make more intentional choices that bring you joy
- #2 Create healthy routines — establish habits that prioritize your physical, mental and emotional health
- #3 Identify when you feel lonely — having the space to recognize and address your loneliness can make it easier and quicker to manage
- #4 Stay connected — socialize with people who bring out your authentic self and make an effort to expand your inner social circle
- #5 Keep it clean — maintaining a tidy decluttered home can help to boost your mood, reduce stress and create a positive atmosphere
- #6 Consider a companion — a pet or even a plant can bring comfort and companionship
- #7 Pursue your passions — discover new interests, take up a hobby, or continue exploring what you already love for more fulfillment
Your 60s are an excellent time to create a lifestyle that encourages personal growth, creativity, and fulfillment. May you make the most of your independence.
And if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed or would like a structured system to help you achieve your ideal retirement, check out our signature program Rewire My Retirement.