Pandemic hard financially for older adults living alone

Financial hardships created or worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic will be much worse for older Americans living alone and could force nearly 3 million of them into possible poverty or greater health risks, according to an organization that’s monitoring the issue.

“Recent history shows us what happens to an already vulnerable population of older adults living in single households,” said Susan Silberman, a senior director of the National Council on Aging (NCOA), an advocacy organization for seniors. “Their far more precarious financial situation is worsened by an economic downturn to a greater degree than older adults living with others. This is only part of the story. Older adults living alone will likely face devastating health impacts related to social isolation.”

NCOA reported its concerns as co-author of a study that applies historical data from the 2008 recession to today’s economic and public health crisis.

In part, the analysis found that the number of vulnerable older adults living alone is likely to increase as married couples lose their partners because of the pandemic. Although the analysis focused on the potential financial risks to older adults during an impending recession, COVID-19 adds potentially devastating health consequences on top of any economic impacts, NCOA noted.

“It is critically important to maintain a strong social safety net and ensure that people who need to access benefits are able to do so,” while also “narrowing financial disparities” for the older population, Silberman said.