How to adjust to living alone
Whether it's due to losing someone close or because you've recently separated from your partner, you may find yourself living alone. But with a little help, living alone is something that most of us can adapt to.
How can I cope with living alone?
Adjusting to living by yourself has its ups and downs, and there may be emotional issues you need to deal with. For example, if you have recently been bereaved or got divorced. There is no right or wrong way to deal with the change. Everyone has a different way of coping, and some people may take longer than others to come to terms with living alone.
Family and friends are a natural source of emotional support, but may not be available for many people, or you may prefer to talk to someone who is not involved in your life.
A counsellor can help you express your emotions, explore your feelings and help you come closer to some sort of resolution. There is free support for bereaved people (e.g. Cruse Bereavement Care), private therapists or your GP may refer you for counselling through the NHS.
How can I manage my home on my own?
Living alone may mean that you take on new or extra tasks around the home. This can be daunting, but simple planning can make you feel more in control.
- Step 1: Make a list of everything you need to do. Write down everything involved in the upkeep of your home, from paying bills to grocery shopping.
- Step 2: Prioritise each task. What are the urgent tasks? What needs to be done every day, and what needs to be done less often?
- Step 3: Set a schedule and keep to it. A schedule can apply to everything, from cooking and cleaning to paying bills and keeping appointments. As soon as you receive a bill, make a note in your diary when it needs to be paid.
- Step 4: Work out how long each task will take, and, most importantly, don’t cram too many tasks into your schedule – leave some time to relax.
Your housing options
If you’re worried about staying in your current home, either because it seems too big to manage or you’re worried about finances, then you might find it useful to read our information on housing options.
How can I manage my finances now that I’m living alone?
Money can be hard to manage even at the best of times. Here are some tips to help you plan your finances:
- Sort out your household bills and make sure they’re in your name.
- List what you’re likely to spend to work out a realistic budget, including money for social outings.
- Write down everything you spend for a few weeks to give yourself an idea of your actual living costs.
- Look for ways you can make savings - for example, switching energy or telephone suppliers.
Will my pension or benefits change if I live on my own?
If your partner died before 6 April 2016, you may be able to receive a part of their State Pension. If you are divorced or separated, you may be able to increase your own State Pension based on their National Insurance (NI) contributions.
You may also be able to receive a part of your late partner’s work or personal pension if they had one. Contact your partner’s pension provider to find out more.
Get a benefits check
If you’re living alone, you should be able to get 25% off your Council Tax bill. If your income and savings are below certain levels, you may also be entitled to means-tested benefits – such as Pension Credit or Housing Benefit. Contact your local Age UK to get a benefits check or use our online benefits calculator. It only takes about 10 minutes for you to go through it.
Are there any charities that can help me?
If you have claimed everything you’re entitled to and are still finding it difficult to manage, some charities can help.
Benevolent funds are set up by charities to help people in particular circumstances. They may be based on a certain occupation, religion health problems or disability.
How can I meet new people?
Often people find it difficult to get out and socialise. Think about these questions for some ideas on meeting new people:
- What have you done in the past that you’d like to do again?
- Are there some activities you’ve never done but would like to try?
- Would it help if you could take up an activity with someone else? If so, do you know someone with a similar ambition?
- Would you like to carry on learning? You can learn something practical, or study simply for the pleasure of knowing something new. Find out if there’s a branch of the University of the Third Age (U3A) near you. These offer courses for retired people in subject areas including arts and crafts, history and computers, as well as lunches and outings, such as going to concerts or the theatre.
- Have you ever thought of volunteering? Helping others can concentrate your mind on other things and remind you that you have something valuable to offer.
Age UK's befriending services
Age UK's befriending services can connect you with a volunteer who can visit your home or give you a regular call.
What should I do next?
- Make a schedule for all your household tasks.
- Plan some social events or look into new activities you might like to try.
- Review your finances and come up with a budget for the next month.
- Find out more about pensions and benefits you may be entitled to.
- Contact Age UK about befriending opportunities.
Every year our Advice Service deals with thousands of calls from older people in need. Call us today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.