By Solid Serenity Legal Solutions
Solo-agers- people, either single or coupled, who cannot expect assistance from children as they age either because they do not have children or the children they do have are unable or unwilling to help as they age- face unique challenges when they age.
Without help interaction with their children, solo-agers face greater risks of isolation, financial exploitation, and other issues. Since solo-agers generally do not have others looking out for signs of impaired function as they age, solo-agers are less likely to know when it is time for them to stop driving, to know when they should move to a smaller residence, and to realize when they start showing signs of physical or cognitive decline.
Solo-agers are becoming more and more common in the U.S. and if you or someone you know is or will be a solo-ager, there are steps that they can take to help alleviate the lack of help from their children and to stay safe and happy entering the twilight stage of their lives.
(1) Build Community
The first and most important step to aging safely and happily without children caring for you, is to build community around you. Solo-agers most at risk for complications are those who do not expand their community as they age.
As friends die or move away, the solo-ager’s community connections decrease. When that happens, the solo-ager’s physical, mental, and emotional harm risks increase.
Whether through meeting neighbors, joining clubs or church groups, attending events at a local library, or chatting up people you see regularly at a coffee shop or other location you frequent, it is important to surround yourself with people who you can connect with and build community with. It is especially important to create friendships with people younger than you who are more likely to be present for a longer period of time in your life.
(2) Choose Where To Live
Where you are currently living might not be the best place for you to live long-term as you age. Whether it is the size of the house, the distance from places you may need to go without a car, or opportunities to socialize, what has worked for you in the past may not work as well in the future.
One common plan is to live in a retirement home or other assisted living community, but that is not something everyone wants or that everyone can afford. Luckily, there are other options available for solo-agers.
Some cities organize communities that are nonprofits created and run by residents of a neighborhood to provide services such as transportation and access to service providers. Another popular arrangement found in some cities is “Co-housing” which clusters homes in certain areas to encourage interaction.
There are also ways to find community more naturally than moving into a pre-planned community. Some apartments complexes, mobile home parks, condos, or tight-knit neighborhoods may have existing informal communities where residents look out for one another. Other more naturally occurring arrangements would be to move in with other Solo-Agers in a house, or rent out a room to a younger person.
(3) Pick Your Guardians
One of the most important ways to age safely and happily as a solo-ager is to make sure that you have all the proper documents in place to ensure that you will be taken care of in case of an emergency.
Two important documents you need are durable powers of attorney for your finances and your medical care and an Advance Directive for Health Care. Be sure to find someone younger whom you can trust to step in no matter how far down the road you need them. You never know when you’ll be unable to make decisions for yourself. You can also use professional guardians if you need to.
Talk to your estate planning attorney to help you choose your guardians and prepare the paperwork you need to age safely and happily!