According to the prevailing cultural narratives, single people in later life have two big things going against them: They are single and they are old. Now focus on the older single women and you have the trifecta: They are single, they are old, and they are women! If conventional wisdom got its way, they would be doing terribly. But guess what? They are not. There are real challenges, for women and men, to aging in an ageist and singlist society. Considering what they are up against, it is remarkable how well older single people are doing.

Here are some writings about single people in later life, starting with what we know from research and continuing on to the stories meant to scare us about living single when you are old. Then there is a section on the actual challenges, as opposed to the exaggerated or made-up ones. Happy reading!

Older single people are faring better than most people expected: The evidence

Lifelong Singles in Later Life: Stereotype-Defying Findings

No partner, no worries

If you are single, will you grow old alone? Results from 6 nations

Women who stayed single, no kids, in their 70s: How are they doing?

In later life, people who stayed single do better than the divorced or widowed

Older women with no kids have better health and more wealth

Older people do even better in solitude than younger ones

Single life gets even better with age


Scare stories about people who live alone in later life: What’s that about?

Elder orphans: A real problem or a new way to scare singles?

The stunning appeal of a story about a man who died alone

My fear  is that I won’t die alone!

Loneliness is bad, but have we gone over the edge with our scare stories?

Single people aren’t to blame for the supposed epidemic of loneliness, and neither are people who live alone

Beyond stories meant to scare singles: The real challenges of living single in later life

How the medical establishment can make things needlessly difficult for single people

Many old people value solitude, but even some professionals do not understand that

Other discussions of single life when we are not so young anymore

Single after 40 and single again: Discussion with psychotherapist Wendy Wasson

Single, No Children: Who Is Your Family?

Chapter 11 in Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After

Chapter 7 in How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century

Single, No Children: Who Is Your Family?

How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century