Joys and Perils of Living Alone


Alone again…as so many Zoomers are.

One of my readers of this column has contacted me… I think I must have at least ten fans by now!  She wants me to speak to her 60’s plus singles crowd about the joys and perils of living alone.

Chuckle.  The first thought that pops into my head is I am not yet 60! 

The second one is I know what joyful means but I had never considered living alone as perilous.  The Oxford dictionary defines peril as “a situation of serious and immediate danger.” Let me ponder on that for a while. 

But first, let me expound on the joyful bits.

By far, the ultimate joy of living alone is sleep…ah perchance to dream.  The luxury of a night’s sleep without the bombardment of snoring and disruptive visits of one’s former mate to the little boy’s room.  The first thing I did upon being single was invest in a new mattress complete with state of the art bamboo, hypo-allergenic, lumbar-supporting, latex and body-conforming features.  I sleep like a rock! 

Next on my list is being able to drink from the milk carton without fear of retribution. Yes, that lipstick mark on the spout is mine.  It’s kind of a primal, territorial thing I am thinking.  Mine!

I can eat what and when I want. My often empty fridge is a testament to how much money I am saving as well.

I can go without making my bed in the morning. Or not.  My choice.

I can toss my clothes on the bedroom floor and squeeze the toothpaste tube any way I please.

I can leave my dirty dishes in the sink. 

I can watch any television program I choose.  I can doze on the couch with a Turner classic movie lulling me into my nocturnal reverie.

Yes the joys of living alone are countless. 

Now comes the perilous part. With danger comes fear. 

My biggest fear of being alone is becoming a bag lady.  Although in my case, I would be an Italian Furla bag lady!  Joking aside, one in four women in Canada over the age of 65 lives in poverty.  I am fortunate in that I represent one of the 38% of Canadians who have a defined benefit pension.  However, one can’t buy too many more imported handbags on a fixed income!

And then there is the fear of falling. 

A friend of mine recently fell down her slippery back stairs. Luckily, her partner heard her cries and came to her immediate attention.

But for those of us living alone, there is no one to rescue us.  I have visions of me lying at the bottom of my stairs on the tiled floor, unconscious and motionless.  Perhaps dead.  I often wonder how long it would take for anyone to even notice.  Would the newspaper delivery man pay attention to the pile outside my door?  Would my family and friends notice that I had disappeared?

And finally, there is the “L” word…loneliness.  My young widowed friend alluded to this one.  Keeping busy and active notwithstanding, at the end of the day, there is just you.  For many seniors, social isolation is a reality.  We’ve lost our sense of community and often we don’t even know our neighbours. 

Now is a good time to change that.  Invite them in for a drink…share some joy!  Nothing perilous about that…unless of course you are sharing the same milk carton.