No one plans to be elderly and alone, but if you are single and either have no immediate family members or are not close with your family, you need a game plan, if you need long term care of any kind.
If you are married, or are close with your children, you probably figure that your children or your spouse will take care of you, when you need help with long-term care. As many as 66 percent of people over age 65 do, at some point in their lives. However, what if you are a single and without family, asks WFMZ TV in a recent article, “The single senior life: Elder orphans.”
While you're still healthy, you should make plans, in the event you find yourself in need of the help that is traditionally provided by a family member. There are solutions, but they require planning.
The first step is to hire an elder law attorney to create the documents to protect you, if you become incapacitated. Designate a friend, a physician, or clergy member to make medical decisions and detail your wishes for your healthcare.
Anyone 18 years or older should have at least a durable power of attorney and a healthcare surrogate.
The next task is to consider where you want to live, like a neighborhood that is near public transportation, so you are not housebound. Begin looking at senior communities or assisted living facilities, and home-help services.
A somewhat unique strategy is to “adopt” a family, where a single elderly person agrees to leave his assets to a family who will help as they age and until they pass. Be careful about the family you select, to avoid any elder financial abuse.
Another way to stay connected is via social media, like Facebook. Carol Marak, the editor of SingleCare, started a group for elder orphans. The group already has more than 35,000 members.
It's critical that you develop a social network. Think about becoming a member of a class, volunteering somewhere, or taking up a hobby—something that will give you regular exposure to a new group of people on an on-going basis.
The grim reality is, spouses die, and children move away. Therefore, even if you are surrounded by loved ones during your 50s or 60s, you may find yourself needing help in your 70s, or when you are older than that. Talk with friends and family members to get a sense of how willing they will be to be actively involved in your care and plan accordingly.
Reference: WFMZ TV (March 7, 2019) “The single senior life: Elder orphans”