Seniors Living Alone – The Costs, Benefits, and Risks

The last thing anyone wants to lose is their sense of independence. Seniors often have trouble coming to grips with the prospect of assisted living or living with family members and in many cases will prefer to remain on their own. Where a senior decides to live must be well thought out because it can be risky for them to continue living alone without immediate support or care.

Reasons For Staying Put

Often, as young children, we fantasize about the day we will finally have an apartment or home to ourselves. It can be tough to arrive at a point in life where you need to consider reversing direction and once again live in a supervised setting so it is not difficult to see why the elderly would have a hard time letting go of their freedom.

According to a survey conducted less than five years ago, approximately 90% of seniors said that they planned on continuing to live in their current homes for the next 5-10 years. Of these individuals, 85% were confident that they would be able to do so without making significant modifications to their homes.

Assisted living facilities can be very expensive. The average cost for a private one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living residence is over $3,000 per month.

Even in your advanced age, you may just not want to live on someone else’s schedule. Living with family or in a facility could create the feeling of always being on everyone else’s time. If you live with family, you may have to adapt to their schedules and activities. Many seniors only want to be in a situation where they decide what their activities will be or what they eat.

Steps To Take If You Stay Home

If you’ve made the decision that you are going to continue living on your own, there are steps you can take to ensure that you remain safe and secure and continue to enjoy your experience:

  • Make the arrangements to get around safely
  • Take part in activities and keep in contact with friends
  • Home security
  • Fall-proofing your home

If you’re no longer able to drive a car, there are still transportation options for you whether it be the bus, a taxi service or perhaps friends or family members to help you get around.

One of the most important things you can do if you live alone is to stay connected to friends and any outside activities that you are healthy enough to participate. If it’s hard for you to leave the house as often as you’d like, some agencies provide visitors or companions to keep you company once in a while.

You may be concerned about crime or the overall safety of your neighborhood. If this is the case, you may want to look into a home security system if you don’t already have one or purchase an emergency alert system to wear around your neck in case of emergency.

Adding ramps and grab bars for staircases and bathrooms are good investments because they will drastically reduce the chance of falling or getting injured.

Dangers And Risks

Unfortunately, there is another side of the coin when it comes to seniors and living on their own. As much as you may prefer to stay on your own and fend for yourself as much as possible, it can cause you to be more vulnerable in many ways and not always have the available help or assistance needed in the event of an emergency.

Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in older Americans. Because one-third of Americans aged 65 and over fall each year, it is hazardous for seniors to live on their own without any form of supervision. If they fall and get seriously hurt, they may not be able to get up and call for help.

Loneliness and isolation can be another downside to a senior living on their own. According to the AARP, loneliness can not only cause unhappiness, but it can also cause one to feel unsafe. There are also related health risks that can stem from loneliness such as:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Poor immune health
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Obesity
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug abuse

Poor nutrition is another potential drawback of a senior living on their own. While a person may enjoy the freedom that comes along with grocery shopping for themselves and being able to decide what they want to eat and when they want to eat, there’s a risk that they may start to fall into poor eating habits. These poor habits could mean skipping meals, not having a balanced diet or just eating poorly in general which are all things that seniors need to be wary of more than ever at their advanced age.

Being a potential scam victim is something that also makes seniors living on their own very risky. According to the FBI, seniors wind up being very attractive targets to con artists because they are most likely to have a “nest egg” to their home and can also have excellent credit.

There are more scams than ever now because of the world we live in with the internet and technology being as prevalent as it is. There are e-mail scams and website scams that could entice seniors into giving personal information such as credit card numbers or their social security number. If these people do not have someone looking after them, they could be extremely vulnerable.

There are clearly pros and cons to all living situations for seniors, so it is important to weigh them against each other and decide which arrangement is the most suitable for you and your needs. Whether you choose to remain on your own, choose an assisted living facility or live with family, be sure that you will be able to live comfortably and will have sufficient care.

Photo of author

Stevie Compango, CNSC, CPT

Stevie is Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 10 years. He specializes in mobility and chronic pain management. His methods have helped thousands of clients improve the quality of their life through movement.

Recommended Articles


  • NIA. Aging in Place: Growing Older at Home.
  • Dwyer, Ed. (September 2010). Understanding Loneliness. AARP
  • FBI. Scams and Safety.