Widows may see benefits in shared housing

Widows may see benefits in shared housing

Today, widowed persons make up fully one-third of the U.S. population age 65 and older. The vast majority of them are women. Women are more likely than men to be widowed for two reasons.

First, women live longer than men. And second, women tend to marry older men, although the gap has been narrowing.

For several decades, the proportion of our senior population living alone has been increasing, especially among those age 85 and older, and more people are living alone now than at any point in the country’s history.

Losing a spouse is one of the most traumatic events that can occur in a person’s life. Oftentimes there is a snowball effect—first the trauma of losing the life partner and then the trauma of living alone.

According to “The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century,” authors Drs. Jacqueline Olds and Richard S. Schwartz cite studies that living alone increases social isolation as well as loneliness and results in reduced happiness, health and longevity.

New rituals for an aging society

New rituals for an aging society

Rituals are as old as humankind, and they transform over time as our culture changes.

Consider the days when girls were considered the property of their fathers. Marriage was less about love than it was a business transaction—the father giving his daughter to another man and the man promising to support her.

We still see remnants of this ritual in today’s traditional wedding ceremonies, with the father of the bride walking his daughter down the aisle to “give her away” to the groom.

Rituals often involve a rite of passage, a marking of an important stage in someone’s life. We have birth rituals like naming ceremonies, wedding rituals like walking the bride down the aisle and death rituals like a wake or a funeral.

Rituals are a way to publicly acknowledge a change in status or a new stage of life.

But what happens when we don’t have rituals for the new normal in our society?

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