When imagining our later years, many envision family by our side. But, with more Americans choosing an independent lifestyle and a growing number of adults living without a spouse or partner, the trend of aging solo is on the rise. In fact, more than 20 percent of adults 65 and older are aging independently or anticipate doing so in the future, according to AARP. Commonly referred to as “solo agers,” many adults are navigating their later years alone – whether they are single by choice, widowed, divorced or separated. Some health care experts have broadened the definition to include those with long-distance or unavailable caregivers. While many solo agers embrace their independent lifestyle and enjoy the freedom that comes with living alone, others may find this reality daunting.
According to Home Instead gerontologist and caregiver advocate, Lakelyn Hogan, “Growing older can feel overwhelming at the best of times, even with great resources and a strong network of family and friends to help guide the way. With so many decisions to be made, it can often feel easier to just delay planning to avoid making difficult life choices. But planning ahead can make all the difference.”Whether you identify as a solo ager, or know someone who could benefit from creating a plan for the later years, consider the following tips to help older adults safeguard their future.
5 Must dos when planning to age alone
1. Plan for future care. There may come a time when you can no longer care for yourself independently. Research all potential options, including professional caregivers and assisted living facilities in your community, before deciding what is right for you. Need help navigating these options? Phone us to connect you with professional navigators Molly & Deanna of Legacy Concierge Services.
2. Build a community. Meaningful relationships can make a world of difference in how happy and connected a person feels. To avoid isolation, try to identify individuals who might be willing to help you along your journey. Remember that many senior centers also offer services along with meal programs for older adults to socialize with each other.
3. Discuss your future home. Whether you or your loved one is planning to age in their current home, downsize, move to a senior living community or choose to live with relatives, it’s important to weigh every option before determining what “home” might look like for you. To help seniors make an informed decision on the best place to age, Home Instead offers free resources and information in our educational program. If you are interested in this information, please phone my office and we can mail you those resources.
4. Manage your estate. Insurance agents and financial planners can help determine the best options for professional care and put your mind at ease. If you don’t have a family member, spouse or designated surrogate to make legal and medical decisions on your behalf, appoint a trusted advisor.
5. Start conversations early. By having discussions about desires and preferences early on, both you and your loved ones can feel more at peace and better prepared for the future. There are many free resources to help get started in Home Instead’s education program. (again, if you are interested in this program- phone my office we would be more than happy to mail you these free resources.) If you no longer have immediate family or friends to have these conversations with, consider speaking with a professional caregiver about how you would like your future to look. Starting today can make for a smoother road ahead.
While establishing future decisions may not seem like a priority right now, a specific plan can help families and their loved ones feel more prepared for the later years of life. For more information on how to confidently plan for the future, do not hesitate to phone my office. We would be more than happy to offer you resources which will educate you on the options available to age the way you envision yourself doing so. Stay well.
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime