Are Women Prepared for Life Alone as They Age?

The following is a guest post from Susan L. Hickey, a financial professional at Your Own Retirement, LLC. She helps guide clients, many of which are single women or female heads of households, on the many facets of planning for retirement. Because of her advocacy Sue combines numerous elements of retirement income planning through the use of insurance products, which includes strategies for claiming social security benefits, Medicare costs, long-term care concerns as well as traditional income needs.

The trends are clear – as women age the odds are they will be living alone, largely because of either divorce or widowhood.

Planning for a Single Life

What may be less clear for many of them is whether they are prepared for that life alone – both emotionally and financially.

Although both men and women could live three or four decades in retirement, it’s more likely for women because they have longer life expectancies, but they also often have less in savings, and smaller or no pensions, so their longevity can work for them and against them.

Almost half (46 percent) of women who are 75 or older live alone, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living.

Catherine McMahon | Unsplash

But women, many of whom are heads of households, don’t always do a good job of planning for their retirements because they spend so much of their time thinking about the needs of others – their children, their spouses, their aging parents.

They need to realize that their happiness and security in their later years can hinge on so many things, and not just their savings. So many factors come into play.

Some mistakes women make in planning for retirement, and what they can do to correct those mistakes, include:

  • Failing to participate in planning. Many women traditionally have left the retirement planning to their husbands and that’s a mistake. Women should be actively involved. They need to understand their financial situation, what would happen if their spouse dies and where all the important papers are kept. When a meeting happens with a financial professional, they should be part of that and help make the decisions.
  • Underestimating how long they will live. For some reason, many women have trouble imagining just how long retirement might last. Life expectancy for women in the United States is about 81, and that’s an average. Many women will live into their 90s and some will pass 100. When planning and saving, women need to consider that they might still be living 30 or 40 years after they retire.
  • Failing to protect their health. Maintaining your general health and well-being is important because medical costs can eat into retirement money. The nest egg that someone thought would be more than sufficient can start disappearing quickly when there are significant medical issues. Women need to make sure they get exercise, eat healthy meals and keep up with those doctor visits.

Final Thoughts

So much of this is connected. When women feel that they have a good financial plan in place, they are more likely to feel secure and that’s good for both their physical health and their emotional health.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. Thanks, Susan. This is something every woman should be aware of. At my aunt’s nursing home, women outnumber men by at least 8 to 1. I keep track of our finances, but I go over them with Mrs Groovy at least once a quarter. She can’t be in the dark about this stuff because one day it will be up to her to manage it.

  2. “When women feel that they have a good financial plan in place, they are more likely to feel secure and that’s good for both their physical health and their emotional health.” Agreed. I do believe these 3 things are so interconnected, for anyone male or female. If one is lacking it’s bound to throw off the others. It does require good planning to balance them all.

    • “I do believe these 3 things are so interconnected … .” Agreed. In fact, I would add ‘spiritual’ (i.e. quality of relationships with self and others) as a fourth element. Understanding the interconnectedness between the four and continually working to improve each is the key to total well-being.

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts, my friend.

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