Solo Aging

Industry Observer with Retired

Solo Aging

A Village at Kentlands & Lakelands announcement.

Winter 2023
To paraphrase the actress Bette Davis, “Growing old isn’t for sissies.” This is especially true for those of us growing older without a partner or nearby family members. Those aging solo have the same concerns as everyone else in the older population, but these concerns are amplified by living alone without a built-in support system. In this issue of the Village News we’ll touch on some of the unique issues facing solo agers, offer tips on how to widen your support system and build new relationships, and talk about ways The Village at Kentlands & Lakelands (VKL) can help. You may be aging solo, but you don’t have to feel alone in the world.
--Fran Randolph, VKL Chair
According to The Pew Research Center, about 27 percent of adults over age sixty in the U.S. live alone. Known as “solo agers,” this group is on the rise, especially among women.

Solo agers aren’t just those without live-in partners or family members close by. This group also includes men and women who live alone and never had children, who are estranged from their children or other family members, and even those who are the sole caregivers of a disabled spouse or adult child. In all these situations, people can feel lonely, isolated, and depressed. The Covid pandemic has only magnified these problems.
Solo agers are especially vulnerable to accidents and injuries, to falling prey to scam artists, or to making poor financial or legal decisions. Without a partner or adult child or relative to listen to our concerns and help us deal with life’s problems, we can make bad decisions or put off making any decisions at all until it’s too late.

The key to successful solo aging is having a strong support system. Research shows that older people with lots of friends are stronger physically and emotionally. Even their brains are healthier. Friends can offer companionship, practical advice, a sympathetic ear, help in an emergency, and so much more. Sadly, our circle of friends shrinks as we get older, and without work, school, or other built-in social systems opportunities to make new friends shrink too.

How do you find the energy – and courage – to make new friends? The tips below will help you meet this challenge head on.
So how do we connect socially at our age? According to one study, making a casual friend takes about fifty hours, making a real friend takes about ninety hours, and making a close friend takes about 200 hours. This may be an overstatement, but the fact is, making new friends takes time and effort. You need to put yourself out there. Here’s how:

• Be a joiner: Do you like to read? Visit your local library and ask if they have a book club. Are you into fitness? Check out local churches to see if they have free or low-cost exercise classes. Or how about joining or forming a walking group? Studies show that social activities combined with physical exercise are extra beneficial. Although face-to-face contact is ideal, you can also join online clubs like The Elder Orphans Facebook Group ( for solo agers over age fifty-five who don’t have children living nearby. It’s a place to exchange ideas and get your questions answered.

• Volunteer your time: Churches are wonderful friend magnets. How about volunteering at a local church food pantry? Do you have strong political views? Put them to good use by working on a political campaign. Are you an art lover or history buff? Become a docent at a museum. Animal lover? Volunteer to walk dogs at an animal shelter. Volunteer with your local Village organization to help (and meet) others.

• Adopt a pet: A cat or dog can be a wonderful companion and stave off loneliness. A dog also needs to be walked frequently, which forces you to get out of the house and exercise. You might even meet other dog owners in the park or around your neighborhood. Studies show that pet owners have lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and fewer heart attacks.

• Reach out to others: Do you know someone else who lives alone? If so, reach out to them. Call them on the phone, bake a cake and stop over, or ask them to join you for a walk around the neighborhood. Before you know it, you’re spending an hour a week with them – and now you’ve made a friend!
Some people call their circle of friends a tribe, but for solo agers, the term “found family” says it better. When you lack a family of your own, friends create a sense of community and belonging. You can’t choose your real family, but you can choose your friends. That’s why a found family is also called a “family of choice.”

Okay, you’ve joined some groups and made new acquaintances. You’re getting out of the house, but you still haven’t made any real friends. Now it’s time to think about the qualities you want in a close friend. Why not make a list of these qualities and a list of what you can contribute to the friendship? If you enjoy discussing politics, you might seek out people who have the same political views. If you’re into exercising, you might look for friends who have an active lifestyle. Then join groups where you’ll find people with like interests. This goes for everyone, not just solo agers.

Speaking of good company, don’t overlook the value of younger friends. Hanging out with gen Xers and millennials helps keep you young and up to date on pop culture, music, technology and fashion. You might be surprised at the number of younger people who seek out older friends and mentors. Younger friends can also keep you more active because they’re more adventuresome and willing to try new things.
Men who are solo agers are often less open to making new friends, asking for help, or admitting they’re vulnerable or lonely. Most men won’t even ask for directions when they’re lost, so how can we expect them to ask for help when they’re sick or lonely? 

Men who once relied on their wives to plan social activities are at a loss when they become widowed. Those who are retired and have time on their hands feel a loss of identity along with the lack of a schedule. Men often wait for other people to invite them to join social activities. “This never, never works,” says psychologist, Jackson Rainer, who admits he was once guilty of this passive stance himself. He advises men to establish a routine of planned social activities and physical exercise. 
The goals of the Village at Kentlands and Lakelands (VKL) are to help people 55+ make new social connections, live fully and independently, and find opportunities to give back. If you’re a solo ager, joining VKL is a big step in the right direction. Sponsored activities have included musical performances, health and wellness classes, technology assistance, guest lectures, luncheons, and annual celebrations. If you are interested in joining a bridge club, book club, or walking group, just let us know. Potential programs under consideration are workshops on how to avoid falling, building stronger memory, and wellness action recovery planning (WRAP).
Here are some additional resources on Solo Aging:

• Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers: A Retirement and Aging Roadmap for Single and Childless Adults),
• For solo agers, a roadmap for a secure future:  
• How to Live Well as Aging Solo:   
• How to Thrive as a Solo Ager:
• Solo and Smart: The Roadmap for a Supportive and Secure Future),
• Solo Ager – Guidance for solo adults aging along,
• What “solo agers” should know about planning for the future: 

Information on solo aging was obtained from, and
For more information, just search under “solo aging” on each site.

VKL is working on the Spring issue of Village Views which will focus on the special challenges confronting solo agers that require creative solutions and planning.

Beginning March, VKL will be publishing Village Happenings, a monthly report that describes the activities sponsored by VKL, as well as those sponsored by other Villages in the D.C. Metro area that are open to our members and volunteers.
Learn more about Village membership and volunteering by contacting Jean Mocarski at  or calling 240-449-9002.
You can also visit our website at
Posted by

Roy Kelley, Retired, Former Associate Broker, RE/MAX Realty Group

Gaithersburg, Maryland  

Comments (30)

Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Roy- I'd not heard the term Solo Aging but I certainly am aware of its concept!!! This is very helpful information. 

Feb 28, 2023 07:27 PM
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo and Home Specialists

Never heard this term before, but it makes sense. Glad that Kentland's has a solution in place!

Mar 01, 2023 04:52 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Very interesting and helpful information. One of the things I've found is someone has to take the first step and say, "Hey would you like to do dinner (coffee/event/whatever) sometime?" It's harder to make friends as we get older but is certainly doable!

Mar 01, 2023 05:02 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

This is a great resource, your area seems to have it all and I love that you share it for everyone to be aware of what is going on in your area.

Mar 01, 2023 05:44 AM
Paddy Deighan MBA JD PhD - Vail, CO
Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D

I hear more and more about this topic and I assume that it will grow in popularity

Mar 01, 2023 07:13 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Bette Davis was right. Growing old isn't for sissies. There is a lot of learning and relearning how to do things and stay alive! This topic is very relevant as the baby boomers continue to age. Being solo really isn't bad until you start realizing your body had aged and you have to learn to live with it and keep moving, with or without pain. 

Mar 01, 2023 07:44 PM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Great information. I'm sure many people will find this very helpful!

Mar 02, 2023 02:59 PM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Solo's happening!  Community type living situation with shared spaces can benefit older solo folks

Mar 03, 2023 12:54 PM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

I have never heard of this term before. That is quite a statistic too of those 60+! Interesting.

Mar 03, 2023 08:01 PM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Very informative and caring post!  I had not heard the term "solo aging" prior to this post, but I have to say there are many who fall into this category in our area.  I think this is good for all of us -- each of us is getting closer to that day and we never know from one day to the next if we will have a partner, family or tribe close by or we might find outselves solo.  No man know the day or hour.

Mar 04, 2023 02:36 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Mar 04, 2023 06:44 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Roy - I may not always comment on each of your posts but I try to catch them on a daily basis.  It's good Kathy Streib included this one today in her weekly round-up selection.  Now, my AR reading is a little more complete.  

I think being informed about the Kentlands community in Gaithersburg Maryland keeps more knowledgeable about the bigger world too.  

Mar 05, 2023 05:36 AM
faye schubert
Retired - Branson, MO
Living the Branson Lake Life

We now have more neighbors that are " solo" and most have a strong support system.

This post has great information I have bookmarked. Thanks!

Mar 05, 2023 06:06 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Kathy Streib 

Thank you very much for the special recognition. It is much appreciated.

Mar 05, 2023 06:10 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Roy,

How did I miss this post? I'm so glad that Kathy Streib featured it in her Sunday series of "Ah-ha" moments for the week. I've just recently heard the term "solo aging" and found your post very informative. Thanks for the education!!

Mar 05, 2023 07:18 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Roy,
Thank you so much for sharing this. It is full of excellent tips for solo aging with purpose and safety. I am a firm believer that every person that lives alone (regardless of age) should have a daily check-in buddy.

Mar 05, 2023 07:19 AM
Kathy Streib

Carol Williams I like your idea!!!

Mar 05, 2023 07:23 PM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

THis is a term I have never heard - but I am glad you are not having to go through life alone! 

Mar 05, 2023 02:45 PM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Roy this is such important information to get in front of  solo aging folks that want and need to be a part of a larger community (most anyway). Staying connected makes such a huge difference in everyone's life.  So glad Kathy Streib featured your post.

Mar 05, 2023 08:01 PM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

The percentage of adults by themselves is interesting.  I wonder if this percentage has increased or decreased over the last 100 years.

Many elderly no longer live with younger family members as in the past.

Mar 06, 2023 06:52 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much for your comments. It is always good to hear from you.

Mar 06, 2023 12:02 PM