Single In The Golden Years

By Ginny Frizzi

November 4, 2011 6 min read

As with many things in life, being single in your golden years is, to a large extent, what you make of it.

Jennifer Little of Parents Teach Kids is 67 and has been single for 35 years of her adult life. "All I could think of were the lyrics to the mid-'60s song by The Mamas and the Papas. 'Go where you want to go; do what you want to do.' That about sums it up, because it is my life and there is no one else to consider," she says.

Marlene Caroselli, a former trainer, has definite ideas on how to live a happy and fulfilling life as a senior single. "I've been single all of my life. Now, as I approach my septuagenarian decade, I'm happier than ever with my status," she says.

Caroselli's suggestions include widening your circle of friends, increasing the number of things that interest you, narrowing time spent on meaningless activities, and finding a cause and supporting it. Also, she says to live by the motto: "If you do nothing else today, do something good for your body."

Caroselli feels strongly about seniors eliminating toxic people from their lives. "There are always people from whom I can learn, but there are always self-absorbed people who are negative. It's the 'me-me-me' syndrome, which no one needs to hear all the time," she observes.

Little has a similar recommendation. "I searched for seniors groups or singles and found most to be less active than I am. I have a few friends, but our schedules don't always match up, so I go to lectures at the college when they are available to the public. I joined a computer club for seniors originally to get help and now to give help," she says.

Caroselli walks whenever she can within a three-mile radius; has become creative with money, including bargain shopping; attends monthly free senior movies; and borrows DVDs from the library.

Another idea is to use your talents and experience to earn money. Whether you need extra income or just want to earn some additional money, it is always rewarding when someone is willing to pay for your good or services.

There are countless opportunities for seniors to earn money. "Stores like Wal-Mart employ seniors as greeters, as do health clubs and similar businesses," Caroselli says. "If you aren't looking for formal employment, go over your skills. If you are a good baker or cook, you might be able to do some work for a local caterer. If you are a writer, you might be able to earn money writing a blog. Your skills have value, and it is gratifying to earn money and have someone depending upon you."

Some ambitious single seniors, including Little, have taken it a step further and started their own businesses.

"I started a new online business less than a year ago based on the needs I saw when I was a teacher. The goal is to help parents teach their children what schools do not," she says.

One advantage to being a single senior is that you can relax, according to Allan Luks, former executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City. Seniors "don't have to play games. When I bring up topics like health problems, money problems or sex, I get honest responses," he says.

When it comes to meeting new people, Luks recommends volunteering. According to him, volunteering at traditional places -- such as museums, hospitals and schools -- is good, but volunteering in political races is even better.

"Politicians want them because seniors are a large voting bloc. They are honest and hardworking, and their support can send a sign to fellow seniors," Luks says. "Most politicians treat senior volunteers like gold."

Being a single senior doesn't have to result in loneliness, according to relationship coach and author Roland Hinds. "There are a few things that seniors can do to establish a relationship or friendship," he says. "Since life does continue after a breakup or death of a mate, it is important to get back in harmony again."

Hinds -- whose books include "Are You The Right One For Me? Whose Choice Is It Anyway?" -- recommends several activities most single seniors can enjoy at little or no cost, including reserving a specific day to attend a museum or other special event.

Hinds also recommends focusing on fitness and giving back to the community at the same time. "This means, when possible, volunteering or participating in events like walking or running for a cause, which helps to keep seniors in shape while supporting an awareness group like breast cancer awareness."

Caroselli agrees that it is important for seniors to keep physically fit and that many opportunities exist for those who are single. "Rouse yourself and get out. Walk or do exercises using soup cans as weights. I know a woman of 90 who has a daily regimen of walking in her basement to music," she says.

She offers a simple tip that can lead to seniors becoming more active in their golden years: "Turn off the television set, and get out of the house. The average person watches five hours of television per day. Cutting that down to two hours per day provides an opportunity to put more free time to better use."

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