Women & Longevity:

Women are at much higher risk of living alone because of their longer life expectancy.   Women also tend to marry older men and this further increases the likelihood of being widowed.  This isn’t news.  What is interesting is the degree to which women live alone in retirement senior citizens’ facilities compared to men.  Although the total number of Canadians living in these residences is small (127,925 people age 65 and older), it’s interesting none-the-less to see the gender difference.  It’s just another sign of the longevity risks that women have.  Statistics Canada data supports and by age 85+ nearly 70% of women in senior citizens’ facilities are living alone in comparison to only 17% of men.

Men & Longevity:

Men’s increasing life expectancy has been closing the gap between the sexes.  However, in most couples the man still predeceases the woman.  Women continue to care for their partners in their own private homes.  Men are less likely to enter a senior’s residence since they have a readily-available caregiver.   The percentage of men in seniors home is always much less than that for women.  The percentage differences range from 22% (age 64-74) to 53% (age 85+).  Men therefore are less likely to ever live alone.

Housing Changes for Much Older Women:

Women after surviving their spouse will first live alone in a private residence, but often later in life need to co-reside in an institutional setting in order to receive additional assistance.  For some this means choosing specialized living options such as senior’s homes.  Costs involved will range from selling an existing home through to monthly rents and fees at the seniors’ residence.

Chart of Living Alone in senior citizens residences (by sex).  Those living in couples or in other combinations are not shown.  (Statistics Canada 98-313-XCB2011025)

Age Group % Female Living Alone % Male Living Alone Total # Living in Retirement Homes
65 years+ 64.1 19.9 127,925
     65 to 74 years 52.0 30.1 12,645
     75 to 84 years 60.0 20.5 49,020
     85+ years 69.7 17.3 65,260

In order for women to have options on where to live late in life they need to consider their financial preparations.  Senior’s residences can be expensive options.  Retirement homes will vary greatly in their amenities and services.  Accommodation price ranges are from approximately $3,000 per month up to about $9,000.  In addition, some in-room meal services, entertainment or other services will have additional costs.  It’s clear that many will be unable to afford this type of living arrangement later in their lives.  A new type of co-housing is being established by the baby boomers.  The future is likely to hold a new range of options for this increasingly lone-living demographic.