Why do so many old people live alone?*
I asked this question to four different German friends. Here are their answers:
People want to live independently of others. They regard self-sufficiency as being highly desirable. They do not like to be dependent on the help of others.
Many married couples, especially elderly married couples live very isolated lives. Their children live elsewhere and they only see them a few times a year. They do not have many friends and, with age, they also die. So, when one of the couple dies, the widower or widow finds it very hard to find new friends or make social contact.
Many years ago, it was more popular for multi-generational families to live under one roof. This sort of family life was very strenuous and there was a lot of strife. Now people do not see this type of lifestyle as being in the bit least desirable.
Most children move out of their parent’s home in their late teens or early twenties. They often go and live in other parts of Germany or even other countries. The parents know there is little likelihood they will live in the same place again. So, the parents build a separate life from their children. When they become too old to take care of themselves, they know they will not go to live with their children, but go into a senior citizen home.
* My friends from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan say in their culture, ideally, no elder person whould have to live alone.