BOSTON (CBS) – So much has been written about retiring and more often than not it’s about traveling into the sunset with your significant other by your side sharing the adventure of retirement.

Most of the ads you see on TV for retirement communities have graying couples playing sports or exercising together.

That’s not a realistic scenario. Fidelity Investments has wised up and they feature single individuals in their retirement ads for they know that will be more the norm.

Many individuals will be riding off into that retirement sunset solo. That may be due to a divorce, widowhood or the fact that they have never married! Seventy-five percent of men age 65 and over are married and live with their spouse. Only 45% of women over 65 are married and living with their spouse. Average age of widowhood is 56. Women outlive men by an average of at least 5 years.

So spending all or part of retirement alone is something a woman should plan for. Women are at a disadvantage here. Women have not earned as much as men over their life time and while we have the good fortune to outlive men we need to make our savings last longer. According to the AARP, for current retirees over 65, 44% of the men receive pensions while only 26% of the women do.

Women who have been single all of their lives actually fair better on the pension issue for they have had longer to prepare for retirement than a woman who may have been married and was in and out of the job market to raise a family.

In retirement someone who has been single all of their life and has built a support system of family and friends will have an advantage over the suddenly single retiree who has been partnered. Take the time to build a support system for those golden years.

As you approach retirement as a single you need to do extra planning. Will you be responsible for helping your parents? Sit with your parents and discuss their expectations, which may be very different than yours. This generation of Boomers is the first generation to join their parents in retirement.

Give some thought to your housing arrangements. Living alone has suited you well during your working years but do you want to consider some sort of communal living with other singles or even siblings as you age. Perhaps you give up the house and look for a town house or a condo where someone else will be responsible for the lawn mowing, snow shoveling or painting.

Estate planning is especially important for the single retiree! You want to be sure things are in order if something should happen to you.

Comments (4)
  1. Italo says:

    A great article with some ringing true statements. Also to consider is that of the Baby Boomer generation now beginning to retire this year, there is a large population of LGBT Community elders who grew up in an era when they were statistically more on average to have lived their adult years with non-traditional “family” and friend support circles and not in long-term relationships and without years of property and equity built up. Many of such retiring elders did not “come out” as readily as younger LGBT generations statistically do now, due to fear of sharing with family, friends, health providers, legal representatives, etc., or else because of estrangement or harassment from these groups once sharing their identities. They aged being overall more self-reliant and with less steady support systems (family-, equity-, and finances-wise). They fear aging and becoming unable to care for themselves, and then being perhaps forced into assisted care situations or locations where they may feel threatened or ostracized, or in any event unhappy or unable to support themselves on their own. Addressing their also-unique retirement outlooks and options is important to focus on, as well. Thanks for article!

  2. Bob Richards says:

    Very good advice but telling people the logical things to do to prepare for retirement will never work because the limitation is psychological as this post illustrates on preparing for retirement

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