Are You a Solo Ager? Here’s How to Plan Ahead
Are you a senior living on your own without a spouse, partner, or adult children nearby? If so, you’re a solo ager—and, to put an ironic twist on it, you’re not alone! In fact, in 2020 the Pew Research Center reported that of people over the age of 60, 27% in the U.S. and 28% in Europe were living alone.
“This is happening more and more,” said Dr. Marcio R. Soares, a geriatrician with the University of Miami Health System, in UMiami Health News. “It’s a growing trend, and we’re going to have more of them 10-20 years from now.”
How to Plan Ahead for the Future When You’re a Solo Ager
Older adults may be living alone for a variety of reasons. They may have never married or had children. They may have outlived their spouse or partner. More older adults today are divorced. Solo agers who are part of the LGBTQ+ community may be concerned about facing discrimination in group living settings.
Whatever the reason or combination of reasons, solo agers are a growing part of the population. And they will need to tackle the same planning tasks that couples or people with family support do—living arrangements, receiving care, socializing, etc.—on their own. Here are a few important things solo agers need to think about and plan for.
Where To Live
Most older people these days—solo or not—express the desire to live at home in their community rather than live in a group setting, such as assisted living. If you wish to live at home, you should prepare the home itself for aging in place. Working with an aging-in-place expert, examine areas of your home that might benefit from safety devices, better lighting and related updates, including:
- Closets and cabinets
- Stairs and steps
Even if your home is made safer for aging, it’s important to think about a “plan B” in case illness or other circumstances demand a move to a group living setting. Do the research now on places you might want to live so you’ll have a plan if the time comes. Also prepare yourself by researching or making notes on local real estate agencies, estate sale/downsizing firms and the like.
Home and Health Care Needs
Thanks to the wide availability of professional in-home care services, many solo agers enjoy living at home even if they need help around the house, help with personal needs, or in-home health care.
In-home care services might include:
- Specialty care, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia care, hospice support, Parkinson’s care, diabetes care, and respite support for family caregivers who need a break.
- Companion care that helps with chores around the home, such as cooking nutritious meals, light housekeeping, shopping, and safety supervision, as well as companionship inside or outside the home.
- Personal care. Solo agers may find they need a little help with personal grooming, hygiene or getting out of bed.
- Nursing care, such as medication setup and administration, catheter care, and vital signs monitoring and reporting to physician. Some Right at Home locations offer nursing care, so you will need to check with your local Right at Home office to see if they provide it.
Many people who are part of a couple enjoy their own friendships as well as the connections they make as a couple, and solo agers, too, may have busy lives filled with friends and activities. As you age in place, will your local friends be around, or will they move away? Will you still be able to visit long-distance friends or relatives?
Many older adults enjoy community living—such as a senior residence or assisted living community—because of the social connections and activities they provide. On the other hand, you may find that you can maintain the social life you desire without moving.
It’s a good idea to think through your closest friends and anticipate any changes that may affect your ability to see them. Fortunately, community connections like churches, gyms and senior centers—while members may come and go—offer a stable presence in older adults’ lives.
Assistance With Planning
Elder law attorneys, financial planners and aging life care professionals, also called geriatric care managers, can help you do much of this planning. You also have a great resource in Right at Home’s “Aging-in-Place Guide.” Visit our website to obtain a free copy.
Right at Home’s professional in-home caregivers provide services that support both the physical and emotional health of senior clients. Contact your local Right at Home today and ask for a FREE in-home consultation.*
*Home care services vary by location.