Senior Isolation - Ranking the 50 States
Isolation is very common among the 65 and older age group. In fact, nearly 30% of all seniors live alone. We know that a significant number of seniors prefer to live on their own at home and maintain independence. However, there are numerous challenges older Americans deal with when they do live alone. Many fear over dependence on others and wish to continue to live alone despite the challenges.
We've learned that more women live alone than men, and more females live below the poverty level. It's a tragedy the numbers who live undernourished and unable to pay bills, pay for medications, and for other necessities. It's our intention to build awareness so that those who age alone become visible, not hidden, acknowledged, and have their needs met.
Challenges Faced by Isolated Seniors
The Consumer Version of the Merck Manual lists several of these challenges, such as:
- Those living alone are more likely poor.
- Seniors that live alone often feel lonely and isolated.
- Since eating is a social activity, many isolated older people do not prepare full, balanced meals.
- New and worsening symptoms or health problems can go unnoticed.
- Following doctors orders and prescription treatments becomes harder.
Senior Isolation - How it Feels
In our Facebook Elder Orphan group, thousands of seniors discuss the challenges of living alone. Senior isolation is often discussed, but what does it FEEL like? These are real quotes from real seniors living alone:
"I was outgoing, and funny and helpful, and now I barely go beyond the walls of my house."
"I do think about the fact that no one is concerned if I'm not seen for days, mostly for the sake of my cats."
"I do have family but still feel lost and alone most of the time as they have lives of their own."
"When I am home alone I love it, other times I feel really lonely and my lack of close friends really hurts."
"Somewhere along the line I went from a gregarious extrovert to being lonely. Keeping the balls in the air is all I seem to do."
Nationwide Resources for Senior Isolation
There are resources available to seniors nationwide that can help address and offer support for those feeling isolated:
- Elder Orphan Facebook Group - Our own Carol Marak started a Facebook group for elder orphans - older Americans living alone with no close family support. Thousands of group members ask questions, share ideas and interact with others.
- #AgingVoices - A twitter hashtag campaign that we developed to share stories, news, and resources for the senior population.
- SeniorCare.com Senior Guides - we have created over 8000 local senior guides that offer healthcare quality ratings, senior housing options and other resources for aging Americans.
- Connect2Affect - The AARP Foundation spearheaded Connect2Affect to seek solutions to senior isolation. The goal is to create a network of resources that meets the needs of anyone isolated or lonely, and that helps build the social connections older adults need to thrive.
- National Association of Area Agencies on Aging- The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. The local AAAs provide aging and disability resources to the communities they serve.
- NCOA.org - Energy Assistance | Benefits - The National Council on Aging several benefits programs can help with energy assistance needs.
Below we have ranked the states that have the highest and the lowest proportion of seniors living alone.
10 Suggestions for Older Americans Living Alone
If you're aging alone, consider the following:
- Draw up legal documents: a will, a living will, a healthcare proxy and a power of attorney.
- Share a home with like-minded friends and siblings. Create a "share the care" approach that serves each resident equally. Draw up legal papers outlining each person's responsibilities; one that makes each party accountable.
- Live nearby the metro line.
- Choose a walkable neighborhood.
- Find a trustworthy person or family you can depend on for support and care. Work out a payment strategy and put it in writing. Get legal advice before implementing a plan. An elder law attorney can steer you in the right direction. Perform a comprehensive due diligence on the strategy and the person(s) before signing anything.
- Hire a chronic care advocate if you live with a prolonged medical condition, preferably an attorney specializing in elder law.
- Make friends with the supportive type.
- Eat fresh, healthy foods.
- Stay fit.
- Keep your brain sharp by getting involved.Volunteer and help those in need.
Current News on Aging Alone and Isolation
- Elder Orphans Have a Harder Time Aging in Place - NextAvenue
- Needs of 'Elder Orphans' a Growing Concern in Aging Population - HealthCentral
Living Alone Concerns
Long-Term Care Planning
- Transforming Life as We Age
- Who will care for the aging, childless and single population? Huffington Post
Support and Services
- Elder Orphans: The need for community - Huffington Post
- Prevent Isolation as You Age - N4A.org
- Virtual Senior Center - SeniorPlanet.org
- North Dakota - 31.73% of seniors live alone in North Dakota. 40.26% of women and 20.66% of men 65 and older live alone.
- Rhode Island - 30.88% of seniors live alone in Rhode Island. 37.91% of women and 20.82% of men 65 and older live alone.
- Nebraska - 30.54% of seniors live alone in Nebraska. 38.95% of women and 19.45% of men 65 and older live alone.
- South Dakota - 30.15% of seniors live alone in South Dakota. 38.45% of women and 19.42% of men 65 and older live alone.
- Massachusetts - 30.02% of seniors live alone in Massachusetts. 37.17% of women and 20.02% of men 65+ live alone.
5 States with Lowest Proportion of Senior Isolation
- Hawaii -18.95% of seniors live alone in Hawaii. 22.58% of women and 14.35% of men 65 and older live alone.
- Utah - 22.50% of seniors live alone in Utah. 29.59% of women and 13.95% of men 65 and older live alone.
- California - 24.09% of seniors live alone in California. 29.80% of women and 16.67% of men 65 and older live alone.
- Arizona - 24.49% of seniors live alone in Arizona. 30.77% of women and 16.99% of men 65 and older live alone.
- Texas - 24.55% of seniors live alone in Texas. 30.65% of women and 16.68% of men 65+ live alone.
Ranking the 50 States by Most Senior Isolation
Below we rank the 50 states by the proportion of the senior population that is living alone. We have included the % of total seniors in the state living alone, as well as the proportion of men and women that are 65+ and live alone.
- North Dakota: All Seniors: 31.73% - Men: 20.66% - Women: 40.26%
- Rhode Island: All Seniors: 30.88% - Men: 20.82% - Women: 37.91%
- Nebraska: All Seniors: 30.54% - Men: 19.45% - Women: 38.95%
- South Dakota: All Seniors: 30.15% - Men: 19.42% - Women: 38.45%
- Massachusetts: All Seniors: 30.02% - Men: 20.02% - Women: 37.17%
- Montana: All Seniors: 29.95% - Men: 21.73% - Women: 37.06%
- Wisconsin: All Seniors: 29.88% - Men: 19.37% - Women: 37.94%
- Iowa: All Seniors: 29.83% - Men: 18.41% - Women: 38.33%
- Maine: All Seniors: 29.82% - Men: 19.61% - Women: 37.78%
- West Virginia: All Seniors: 29.68% - Men: 20.01% - Women: 37.15%
- Ohio: All Seniors: 29.58% - Men: 19.54% - Women: 36.93%
- Minnesota: All Seniors: 29.49% - Men: 18.67% - Women: 37.87%
- Kansas: All Seniors: 29.38% - Men: 18.91% - Women: 37.30%
- New York: All Seniors: 29.31% - Men: 20.03% - Women: 35.87%
- Pennsylvania: All Seniors: 29.23% - Men: 19.44% - Women: 36.28%
- Kentucky: All Seniors: 29.20% - Men: 19.07% - Women: 36.80%
- Illinois: All Seniors: 29.14% - Men: 19.21% - Women: 36.34%
- Vermont: All Seniors: 29.08% - Men: 19.06% - Women: 37.04%
- Michigan: All Seniors: 29.04% - Men: 19.43% - Women: 36.34%
- Missouri: All Seniors: 28.63% - Men: 18.65% - Women: 36.16%
- Connecticut: All Seniors: 28.61% - Men: 18.86% - Women: 35.67%
- Wyoming: All Seniors: 28.52% - Men: 20.66% - Women: 35.36%
- Oklahoma: All Seniors: 28.40% - Men: 18.99% - Women: 35.69%
- Indiana: All Seniors: 28.31% - Men: 18.14% - Women: 35.84%
- Alabama: All Seniors: 28.08% - Men: 18.62% - Women: 35.02%
- Colorado: All Seniors: 28.04% - Men: 18.93% - Women: 35.31%
- Mississippi: All Seniors: 27.91% - Men: 18.98% - Women: 34.37%
- Oregon: All Seniors: 27.74% - Men: 18.38% - Women: 35.27%
- North Carolina: All Seniors: 27.70% - Men: 17.86% - Women: 34.96%
- Louisiana: All Seniors: 27.61% - Men: 19.31% - Women: 33.76%
- Arkansas: All Seniors: 27.53% - Men: 18.06% - Women: 34.85%
- Washington: All Seniors: 27.52% - Men: 18.47% - Women: 34.84%
- New Jersey: All Seniors: 27.41% - Men: 17.66% - Women: 34.35%
- Tennessee: All Seniors: 27.33% - Men: 17.78% - Women: 34.50%
- New Mexico: All Seniors: 27.11% - Men: 20.23% - Women: 32.75%
- New Hampshire: All Seniors: 26.92% - Men: 17.90% - Women: 34.10%
- Virginia: All Seniors: 26.68% - Men: 17.32% - Women: 33.78%
- Maryland: All Seniors: 26.62% - Men: 17.70% - Women: 33.17%
- South Carolina: All Seniors: 26.33% - Men: 17.52% - Women: 33.05%
- Idaho: All Seniors: 26.31% - Men: 17.61% - Women: 33.78%
- Georgia: All Seniors: 26.00% - Men: 16.95% - Women: 32.68%
- Delaware: All Seniors: 25.59% - Men: 17.25% - Women: 32.07%
- Alaska: All Seniors: 25.47% - Men: 21.30% - Women: 29.44%
- Florida: All Seniors: 25.29% - Men: 17.25% - Women: 31.74%
- Nevada: All Seniors: 24.62% - Men: 20.22% - Women: 28.54%
- Texas: All Seniors: 24.55% - Men: 16.68% - Women: 30.65%
- Arizona: All Seniors: 24.49% - Men: 16.99% - Women: 30.77%
- California: All Seniors: 24.09% - Men: 16.67% - Women: 29.80%
- Utah: All Seniors: 22.50% - Men: 13.95% - Women: 29.59%
- Hawaii: All Seniors: 18.95% - Men: 14.35% - Women: 22.58%
Note, our statistics come from the 2010 United States Census.
More on City Rankings
- The 10 Loneliest Cities in Texas for Seniors
By Carol Marak
Chief Public Relations Officer, Aging Alone Spokesperson & Advocate
- The Top 100 Cities in the U.S. by Number of Seniors
By Carol Marak
Chief Public Relations Officer, Aging Alone Spokesperson & Advocate