Psychology

Living alone



Dr. G. A. Anderson's image for:
"Living alone"
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As a parent, guardian, or person who works with children daily, it is often easy to spot the future introvert. Children who keep to themselves, would rather study alone, or who avoid group activities if possible, are the ones who prefer solitude. This pattern often does not change, and the introverted child may stay this way throughout life. The same is true for youngsters who tend to be extroverted. The patterns that accompany their life may stay in place well into old age. Being with and around other people will give extroverts the inspiration and motivation they need to feel involved. Analyzing these traits will help determine how well adults and seniors will adapt to living alone if the time comes when this is an option.

In talking with several adults who now live alone or did so in the past, it was not difficult to see that the preference for being alone began early in life. Many felt somewhat different, or had individual interests not shared with other family members. Or being an only child, they just seemed to adjust to a quiet lifestyle that left no accommodation for the boisterous and outgoing characteristics of a number of people at one time. Now in their mature adult, older adult, or senior years, they are living on their own for whatever reason(s) and expressed their opinions about it, both positive and negative.

Sasha

Sasha is 70, widowed for over 10 years, and lives alone on a small farm. The outdoor work is tremendously demanding, but she has acclimated well to this and feels a responsibility to keep her place immaculately trimmed up in warm weather. Sasha is a nurse, and in any spare time she has, she provides home care for a seriously ill neighbor. Sasha needs a little added income but does not want to rent out any of the numerous rooms in her large old Victorian. She could use the company, but she prefers not to share the house in case it would lead to various resentments and other issues. She could certainly use the help with outdoor work, but that would be problematic for her, too. She has thought of remarrying, but has difficulty with dating and even the idea of making a commitment to a new partner. In her eyes, even though she is lonely, the hassles that would go along with a new relationship or even a home-sharing plan would "not be worth it." In light of all this, she lives a solitary lifestyle. If she gets lonely or runs out of things to do, she picks up the phone to converse with family members. Her plans are to keep her home and do the best she can to maintain it until she can no longer keep up. Then she plans to move into an apartment or condo so that she will still be able to be left alone. She does not desire having anyone living in permanently. She does better living alone because her strong-willed nature could cause problems for others.

Felicia

In a small mostly-rural community, a 78 year-old woman named Felicia is living out the rest of her years in her own home, doing as much as she can to continue high levels of effectiveness in the community. She is actively engaged in volunteer work, helping friends and neighbors, and working in her church. Felicia frequently visits with her neighbors and grows an assortment of vegetables to share with them. She is friendly and outgoing. Her marriage ended with the death of her first husband, and her relationship afterward ended with her partner's demise from Alzheimer's Disease. Since that time, she has returned to an active lifestyle, including going to the beach, visiting with friends and family, volunteering at a nursing home locally, and gardening around her home. She is perfectly satisfied living alone and has no intention of leaving her home "until they carry me out." She is socially and physically independent at this age, much the way she says she has always been. Felicia does very well living alone.

Gladys

Gladys is a combination of characters. She is usually outgoing and expressive and sometimes drives friends and associates to distraction. She has lived alone since her husband died seven years ago. Independent and highly intelligent, she thrives on a certain amount of drama in life. She is never idle. She gets involved in SO many projects that she barely has time to write her books. Gladys tried to hire people as live-in assistants to help her get organized in her home office and get things in order. However, her strong-willed temperament was difficult to live with for most of her assistants, and they were soon off to other positions. Gladys would still love to find someone who could manage her affairs for her and be a companion, as well, but living with her would be difficult for most people. She does not, however, prefer to live alone. She feels she does not do well living alone.

Antonia

Antonia is a woman who was married for over 40 years to her high school sweetheart, raised a large family, and then found out that her husband was cheating on her. After gathering sufficient evidence, she divorced him. At 71, she remarried. That marriage did not work out past the two-year mark, as the man was untrustworthy and was never quite legitimate in his dealings with her. Antonia was devastated, but not ready to give up on relationships or marriage. She is once again dating steadily and hopes for a more permanent relationship. She is not the kind of woman who is terribly independent and is best ensconced in a committed relationship. As live-in situations are not acceptable for her, the only option is marriage. This is her strong preference at 73. She does not like living alone.

Mother

My mother was a family-oriented person, mostly dependent on family members for transportation and companionship. When my father died at the age of 77, Mother fell apart. Not believing she could make it alone, she began to have health problems soon after he passed away. A series of heart problems, surgeries, gastrointestinal problems, and finally Alzheimer's Disease took her. It had been impossible to keep her at home in the final four months of her life, and we had to find a good place for her to live that could provide the 24-hour care she needed. She was unhappy with that arrangement and often begged us to stay when we went to visit her. All we could do was visit as often as possible. She wanted to be near and with family members, not strangers. When Alzheimer's took over in her final years, there were not as many complaints. She had just not wanted to be alone and was not a person who could manage it under any conditions. She gave up her home to move in with a daughter because she detested living alone.

Everyone is different when it comes to living arrangements. I like to be on my own for several days at a time, but after that, it's time for my husband to come home. Two out of three of my children live alone, and the third one cannot do that - he needs to be with someone. My husband, on the other hand, could probably live alone in the wilderness and be fine! A person's lifetime personality gives some insight into how they will react when faced with living alone. There are many individuals who will feel comfortable and secure, but many who will not.

More about this author: Dr. G. A. Anderson

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