Lifestyle

Is living alone divine or dangerous?

IF I wasn't a wife and mother I could easily imagine myself living on my own as I did for a couple of years in my early 20s.

I loved not having to abide by any societal norms, and not having anyone to judge me and my strange ways.

I could sleep all day and stay up all night. I could crush multiple Cadbury Flakes directly into a 2-litre tub of hokey pokey ice-cream for supper.

And I could don legwarmers and a fluorescent leotard, and bounce up and down on my rebounder to Kylie Minogue's Locomotion. (It was the 80s, okay?)

If it had been a reclusive weekend, greeting a work colleague on Monday morning could have been the first word I'd uttered since Friday afternoon.

"Oh, yes, she lived alone. No one ever saw her. She was quite strange, really - eccentric. A loner," my neighbours would have told journalists had I been the perpetrator of some horrific crime.

At that time living alone seemed independent, indulgent, subversive and anti-social. Yet I never considered that living alone could also be hazardous to the health.

>>More Lifestyle News

It was for 41-year-old Hannah Betts - the author of When illness strikes, living alone can be dangerous - who had severe appendix problems when no one was around to help her.

It's a weird little story. The first two people she asked to deliver painkillers to her didn't.

Then the doctor's receptionist refused to help and the writer, herself, was reluctant to call an ambulance for fear she was overreacting.

When Betts finally made it to hospital and was able to call her father she "failed to make myself heard".

She didn't have the telephone numbers of most of the people she needed to call so she settled for posting updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Nonetheless Betts draws important messages from the mayhem. When we're ill we're not necessarily thinking clearly or capable of making our best decisions so a concerned other person can be crucial to take control of the situation.

She points out the need for a "gate-keeper" - someone calm and coherent who can be relied upon to call the ambulance and let family and friends know what's happening.

Despite the pitfalls, living alone is an increasingly common phenomenon. We're living longer, and many of us are steadfastly remaining single and prizing our solitude.

Statistics New Zealand reports that: "One-person households are projected to be the fastest-growing household type ... increasing ... from 363,000 in 2006 to 602,000 in 2031. One-person households will account for 29 per cent of all households in 2031."

So if living alone really is dangerous, what are our options if we're without a romantic partner? Should we establish pragmatic relationships for the sake of companionship?

Do we go flatting in later life like those awesomely grouchy people in the Westpac television advertisement?

Should we wear an emergency communication device around our neck even though we're not geriatric? Do we take in boarders?

I've heard of elderly live-alone women who have a friend ring them every morning at 8am to check they haven't died in the night. I've always wondered about the logic behind this, though.

I would have thought that having died in the night, by definition, means you won't be around to worry about having died in the night. But perhaps I'm missing something.

Do you live alone? What are the benefits and pitfalls? Have you been in danger because there was no one there to assist?

Topics:  lifestyle, opinion



Big October approaching for bowls

SPRING BOWLS: The greens will be packed as October promises a big month of bowls.

October to heat up the greens.

Taste of the Caldera can be found in a glass of rum

Paul Messenger hand cuts the sugar cane to make Husk Distillers Rum.

This Tweed distiller is on the cutting edge of innovation.

Blood thicker than water for ex-Shark Wheeler

Mal Wheeler will be cheering son-in-law Blair on in Sunday's grand final. Blair is pictured scoring a try against Canberra in last weekend's preliminary final.

I have my shirt and beanie and they're both purple.

Local Partners

Jay Z signs two-year movie and TV deal

Rapper Jay Z

Rapper Jay Z has signed a television and movie deal

Nowhere to Hyde: Matt Nable is Australia's man in demand

Matt Nable stars as Detective Gary Hyde in the TV series Hyde & Seek.

NABLE returns to the small screen amidst busy film work.

Marvel's Luke Cage S1E7: Manifest review

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage. Supplied by Netflix.

*WARNING: spoilers if you haven't seen Marvel's Luke Cage*

Marvel's Luke Cage S1E6: Suckas Need Bodyguards review

Rosario Dawson and Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage. Supplied by Netflix.

*WARNING: spoilers if you haven't seen Marvel's Luke Cage*

Marvel's Luke Cage S1E5: Just To Get A Rep review

Mahershala Ali, centre, in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage. Supplied by Netflix.

*WARNING: spoilers if you haven't seen Marvel's Luke Cage*

Marvel's Luke Cage S1E4: Step In The Arena review

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage. Supplied by Netflix.

*WARNING: spoilers if you haven't seen Marvel's Luke Cage*

Beach-side real estate starts at $85k on Fraser Coast

HERVEY BAY REAL ESTATE: You can buy this townhouse in Scarness for under $300k.

Live your beach-living dream locally.

Penthouse in beach paradise

Take in the beach front views from the balcony of 701/ 4-10 Douglas Street, Kirra.

This beachfront penthouse is the perfect place to enjoy the views.

Casuarina sets the benchmark in Tweed market

Our property market is as strong as it's been since the crisis

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record