There are currently 12 million solo agers in the U.S. These are older adults without a spouse or children. Solo agers have some unique long-term planning issues because they can’t rely on the individuals we typically think of as providing assistance when they are having problems managing their lives. With no spouse or children available to help, solo agers must think about how to deal with the range of difficulties they may face as they get older. If they don’t make appropriate plans, it will be harder for them to maintain their independence and ensure that they are in control of decisions about their lives.
To that end, if you are a solo ager, here are some key areas you should take into account in planning for the future:
- Money/Finances. Can you afford to retire? How will you pay for long-term care? Who will manage your finances if you are unable to do it?
- Spirituality. Are you close to religious facilities?
- Work/Purpose. What will you do in retirement? If you must work, how can you keep your skills current? What happens if you cannot work?
- Legal. Do you have key estate planning documents in place, such as a power of attorney, health care proxy, will, trust and other documents? Have you done succession planning for your business?
- Fun/Engagement. Are there recreational and cultural activities nearby? Do you have people to go with to enjoy the activities? How can you avoid loneliness and social isolation?
- Community Support. What services are available in your area if you need assistance?
- Transportation. Can you walk to get to things you need? Can you afford to maintain a car? Are there transportation services you can use if you cannot drive?
- Family/Friends. Do you have a strong social network close to you?
- Health/Fitness. How can you improve your health? Are health services available nearby? Do you have adequate insurance? Who will make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated?
- Housing/Location. Can you afford to stay in your home if you stop working? Can you make your home accessible so you can age in place? Are you in a safe and desirable location as you age? Who can help you maintain your home if you need assistance?
This is not a complete list and everyone should consider these items regardless of whether they are a solo ager. However, planning for the future is more crucial for solo agers because there isn’t an automatic person you can assume will take over if you cannot handle something. If you don’t plan and there isn’t anyone to step in, you could end up isolated and alone, fall prey to con artists, live somewhere you don’t want to live, and be cared for by people you don’t know and trust. To minimize these risks, be a proactive, Pro-Choice Senior who takes control of their aging.
Contact me for assistance with your planning. I can help you with your estate planning as well as refer you to other experts who work with seniors.
For more information, read Homework for Pro-Choice Seniors: What Is Your Caregiving Plan?