Senior Solo Women
I was surprised to learn how many senior women were living alone, until I was one of that cohort. It was something I hadn't considered very much - and it took some years before I looked around me and started to explore the issues that were specific to that group of women.
Of course, I know that some women never marry, and I know that there is a high number of marriage breakups these days, and of course many women are widowed, some at a very early age.
A good number of these women have good family support - many living in close proximity to family members with regular family events. It does help to be one of a big family. Those women who were part of a small family, or indeed are living some distance from family members, can be isolated.
My own story is that I have one sibling, but when I left home at 18 years of age to follow a nursing career, I have never lived in the same proximity of my sister, and indeed, after I married at 23 years of age, I have not even lived in the same state. My husband I, and our two children lived in several states of Australia, as he pursued a career, and I, as the dutiful wife followed.
After 43 years of marriage, it all came to a crashing halt. I had had enough of his behaviour - he had a drinking and gambling problem, had depleted our finances, and could never face the truth about it all. Indeed, some nearly six years after I left, and with the divorce finalised, he still denies his drinking problem and is confused about my departure!!
That is how I came to be a solo senior woman.
I had had an interesting life, with a range of fascinating employment experiences, and had little money but realised that I was so unhappy, and was receiving counselling as at times I was so desperate I was suicidal. My escape changed me, and for the most of the time since I left, I have been very happy.
When I left I had few resources, but I managed to get some house sitting - and for the first two years after I left I was housed with some comfort. I had no car, but each of the home owners supplied me with a car. Within the first few weeks of leaving and becoming solo, and responsible for my own life, I started a university course, in fact fast tracked it, and after two years had gained a Master of Arts. That kept me very busy, and I had little time to ponder my situation.
During the second year of house sitting my father died, and I inherited some money. Not a lot, but it certainly made a difference. I was able to buy my own car.
After graduation, I set off on a great adventure. I had always wanted to drive around Australia, and despite being quite freak out about my crazy plans (people were aghast that I would contemplate such a "dangerous" trip on my own) I set off in November 2012. It took five months but I arrived back in Brisbane in April 2013, and had to plan my next step.
Staying with my daughter for a couple of weeks on my return, and in close proximity to my ex-husband, I knew that I had to move further away. I explored several options and eventually found a delightful spot, some 50 kms north of Brisbane and moved to a little township by the sea and a river.
I knew no one and had to start all over again, learning about the area, the opportunities, and the challenges. It took a while but I did make friends, and strangely enough most of my friends are single solo women. I was not looking for a male companion, though often joke that I am looking for a tall, rich, wealthy gay man!! Apparently there are few of them, so I am still solo.
But it has allowed me to explore the challenges of this cohort of women, and I have learned quite a lot about the many issues that are associated with this group. I am contemplating formal study on this group of people.
I can say some of the issues are:
- Financial problems
- No/little support if one is ill
- Housing - rents are high, and without $$$'s one cannot buy a house
- No support services specific to this cohort
and if you are one of this group, you may know of others.
There are women who have either been widowed or divorced, and have been fortunate to be left with generous finances and/or property, but there is a large group that are left "out in the cold" with little or no money, no property and little opportunity to gain employment. Age, lack of skills, few job opportunities etc.
Many women seek new partners, which solves many problems/challenges, but for some, it only makes it worse. I am surprised at the number of women who have been married up to four and five times too - and often still ended up in poverty or similar.
What do Women Want?
I remember the movie with Mel Gibson "What Women Want?" and recall enjoying it, but of course it was fiction. I am sure it is not possible to easily determine what women want as we all have different wants and needs.
I am considering doing some formal research on the topic of senior solo women, as there is quite a lot written about them at the moment, particularly in relation to their financial status. Women still don't earn as much as men, often have limited retirement funds, and many are "left out in the cold" financially after a marriage break up or death of spouse.
We see so many older men, who have managed to find another wife, and though some women do, it appears that more men are able to find a replacement spouse, even going to Asia to find that younger woman. Older women do not usually want a younger spouse, and many younger men are looking for younger women, not older ones!
There are so many issues for single solo women, and I would interested in feedback from others. I know I am "down under" in Australia, but would still welcome info from anywhere in the world.
One of the major issues is housing and security - which go hand in hand. I will write more on that at a later stage.
So, I will end this hub here, and see what feedback, if any I get.