Many older adults are aging without a safety net.
The belief that every older adult has a concerned, competent, involved family member to help with medical decisions, legal decisions, bill paying, transportation, and other caregiving responsibilities is being shattered by reality.
Current data estimates that almost 30% of baby boomers will age alone.
There are a growing number of elder orphans, solo agers, and even older adults with family who have no reliable support. What are the options for those aging without a family caregiver?
Tips for Aging Alone
- Be intentional about where you live. You might consider living in an area that is focused on planning for your needs as you age. Living in an area with mass transit or that is walkable can help you to age in place. Some communities are getting an Age Friendly or a Lifelong Community designation. This means that the community is geared towards planning and adapting to the needs of older adults. Some areas even are becoming Dementia Friendly. On a neighborhood level, you may find a neighborhood that has established a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community or a Senior Village Program to help their older and disabled residents. A Continuing Care Retirement Community can provide a variety of supports to help you as you age. Think ahead and be proactive and intentional about where you live so that you can still get your needs met even if you lose the ability to drive.
- Build a social network. By expanding your circle of potential helpers, you may find friends to rely on to pitch in and watch out for you. This is an important part of your aging safety net, especially for seniors without family. Look for friends at church or in any volunteer organizations you help; neighborhood groups and senior centers are also good places to start. The idea is to have a group of people you can turn to when you need a little extra support.
- Hire experts and agencies. Many communities offer a variety of experts and agencies that you can hire to build your elder care team. These professional caregivers can include Aging Life Care Specialists, daily money managers, elder law attorneys, and financial planners. Many seniors without family turn to a hired elder care team to help them manage the aging process. These professionals can help you arrange home services if needed and watch for signs of malfeasance in your financial situation. They can also help you locate other services you might need, such as meal delivery, handyman assistance, transportation assistance, and senior centers. Hurley Elder Care Law has the Aging Ally program that includes financial, legal, and caregiving support all from one exceptional team.
- Complete advance planning. You should complete a durable power of attorney to name someone to manage your financial affairs in the event you can no longer handle them on your own. You should also complete an advance directive for healthcare and name a health care agent to ensure your wishes are carried out if you aren’t able to make health care decisions on your own. You may have a friend or neighbor or even a distant relative that is willing to play this role in your care. If you don’t have someone you trust, you can set up and appoint a professional to be your healthcare agent, your financial agent, and/or your trustee.
Aging successfully includes having a safety net and back-up plans, but family members are not the only caregivers available. If this situation sounds familiar to you, please give our office a call for a complimentary phone consultation at (404) 843-0121 or reach out to us here.