It’s what’s known as “solo aging,” a term for what happens when a senior has no children or younger family members to help them as they get older.
There was a time when getting older meant going to live in a nursing facility or moving in with younger family members who could help tend to a senior’s needs.
But this scenario is less likely for some Baby Boomers. The Pew Research Center says about 20 percent of Boomers have no children, compared to 10 percent in previous generations.
But these “elder orphans” – as we’ve seen them described – have something significant in common with their counterparts who have children: they’re very independent and wish to age in place.
This arrangement is often fine…until it isn’t. Among the risks that come with solo aging are:
- Lack of proper nutrition
- Medication mismanagement
- Scams that target the elderly
And we haven’t even touched on the various health issues that can affect all seniors, such as heart disease, dementia, and mobility issues. Without younger family members to help, it will be markedly more difficult for these seniors to find qualified caregivers and new living arrangements.
We realize this might sound like a doom-and-gloom scenario, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re a solo ager or a great-grandmother living in a multi-generation household, there are certain steps you can take to ensure your needs are met:
1. Power of attorney
A power of attorney is an estate planning document that lets you appoint someone to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This person can be a friend that you trust, part of your extended family, or even a professional guardian.
2. Living will
A power of attorney can allow your appointed agent to make day-to-day decisions regarding your care, but you may also want to establish a living will, which instructs loved ones and your doctors about your end-of-life care preferences.
3. Setting up a will
Even if you don’t have a large family, chances are you have plans for what happens to your money after you’re gone. When you create a will, you can ensure that the people, causes or organizations you care about are cared for when you pass.
If you – or a someone you know – falls into the “solo aging” category, Newman Elder Law can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. You might live alone, but with us working to protect your interests, you won’t be alone.