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Alone stage of retirement

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Speaker(s): Lori Curtis

Canadians are living substantially longer without increasing years of work; a longer retirement must be resourced within a stable working life. The literature recognizes 3 stages of retirement, early (ages 65 - 74 years), middle (ages 75 - 84 years) and late (ages 85 plus). Resource needs follow a U-shaped pattern. High while seniors are active, fall in the middle stage as retirees enjoy home routines and high when health diminishes and daily living activities become more difficult. Women live longer than men, those that marry tend to marry men who are older than themselves. Many female baby boomers did not marry or divorced. Thus, a growing proportion of women will end up living alone at older ages with limited incomes when health and daily activity issues exacerbate. Towards the end of the middle and into end stage of retirement, many women find themselves having to cope alone - 'the alone stage of retirement' (ASR).


A literature review indicates senior poverty rates are increasing in Canada, particularly for women but there has been little focus on ASR. We fill the gap and explore for women what: is the average length of ASR; is their average health status in ASR; income (public/private pensions) is necessary for ASR; what group (widows or divorced/single) are better off in ASR; portion of financial, health and long-term living supports are likely to be available from government programs? type of income income gap is likely, for which women, in what circumstances; solutions might be proposed for these issues; changes to the situation are likely to occur over the next 30 years? It is imperative that governments recognize that this population exists and is growing, what their health and resource status is, and what policies need to be in place to assist them in this critical stage of life.

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