A Pew Research study released in March 2021 reported that 27% of adults ages 60 and older in the U.S. live alone. Another study, conducted in 2016, reported that about 22% of people in the United States will be unsupported as they age.
Who are these people who will be aging without the support of spouse, children, or extended family? Demographers have come up with several names for people in this group, including elder orphans, solo-agers, and unsupported elders. No matter what you call them, the number of people aging alone is expected to keep increasing. Who will care for these people when they become incapacitated? Where will they live? Will they be able to remain at home?
If you are aging alone, you’ve probably asked these same questions. What can you do today to prepare? Here are some tips:
- Identify friends or family members whom you think might be able to help you as you age. Ask them if they would be willing or able to assist you. Don’t assume that they will.
- If no friends or family members are able to help, look within your community. Is there a neighbor, a church member or a volunteer available from a local organization?
- If your financial situation allows, considering hiring professional caregivers, including a geriatric care coordinator who can step in to manage your care when you’re not able to.
- Look for support and ideas online. Join the Elder Orphans Facebook Group. It currently has nearly 10,000 members over the age of 55 who live alone.
- Think about tasks of daily living that you might need help with and tackle each one individually. Afraid you won’t be able to cook, clean or walk your dog? Find out if there’s a Meals on Wheels in your city or town. What housecleaning companies are in your community? Is there a dog walking service? You may be surprised at what you find!
- Organize all aspects of your life so you know where you stand. It’s easier for someone to help you if they’re not walking into a big mess.
- Start researching housing options now. Assisted living and nursing homes aren’t your only choices these days. There are more options now than ever before, including granny pods, active adult communities, tiny home retirement communities, RV retirement communities, senior villages, green communities, continuing care retirement communities, and senior cohousing.
- Realize that you’re not alone in your situation. There are many people just like you who don’t have a spouse or children. Look for them. Chances are you’ll find them! Create your own community of solo-agers and join forces to be there for one another.
- Start planning now. A pre-crisis Life Care Plan can help you prepare for the personal, financial, and legal issues likely to arise as you grow older. In addition to legal services and ways to pay for care, a Life Care Plan gives you access to the services of an elder care coordinator who can serve as a project manager for your care.
If you don’t have a spouse or children to help you, growing old can be a frightening proposition. It doesn’t have to be! Early planning is essential, and Life Care Planning Law Firms can help you live well on your own as you age. Find a Life Care Planning Law Firm near you.