The good news is that folks are living longer. As of the end of last year, overall average life expectancy has increased to 78.8 years. For men, it is age 76 and for women, it is age 81. But the gap between women and men has narrowed to less than 4 years.
The potential lifespans of men and women are more similar now than at any time since the early 1950s, when the life expectancy of women was just over 70, and men could expect to live only to their late 60s.
Life expectancy has continued to rise as all generations enjoy unprecedented wealth, better nutrition, healthier lifestyles and advancing medical science.
What happens when one of them dies? Does the surviving spouse stay in their home or go live with family or relatives?
There are many retired senior couples here in the south. Many of them live productive and social lives as well as staying active in work, church and community activities. What do they do when they become ‘single’ again? Also, some seniors are faced with the double stress of caring for both children and ageing relatives, as well as providing for their family financially. Losing a spouse is a double-edged sword – highly emotional – yet financial issues have to be addressed. Some rush to sell their home, change financial accounts or have to decide to stay where they are or relocate.
The experts give this advice: 1) Don’t rush into anything you may regret later 2) Any long-term decisions or major changes should not be made until at least six (6) months after your spouse’s death. 3) Seek a financial expert’s advice instead of relying on relatives’ or friends’ advice. They may not be up-to-date on regulations, tax laws and more. 4) Update your own legacy plans (preferably with a finance expert).
A common concern of widows & widowers is who will care for them if they become ill or infirm. Have insurance or funds for long-term care? Move in with adult children? Or live in a nursing home? Some local people have moved to another state to be with family; some of these situations work and others feel like they are chauffeur, cook and baby sitter. They miss the friends & activities they had to give up. Some move back. Other experts advise: 1) don’t put your house on the market; 2) don’t give away money to your children or charity; 3) don’t agree to move in with a child. These things may make sense, but it isn’t good to make rash decisions. Especially since the most challenging aspect of your ‘single’ life is the emotional aspect. The death of a spouse is one of the most devastating events of a person’s life. Harder still If one did not play an active role in the household finances.
My own advice: Try to not make any major decisions for six months to a year. Try to stay busy with regular outlets of social, church & community work. Try to relax and get together socially with friends regularly. Try joining a support group. Try staying with your children as a test run before you make a concrete decision to move there. Seek and lean on your faith. Would you stay where you are or would you move?
Marie Coppola July 26, 2017