8 Tips for Solo Agers: Your Plan for a Healthy, Supported Future

By Lisa Mayfield |

It is estimated that nearly one-third of adults who are 55 and older are single. This group is sometimes referred to as “solo agers.” Top of mind for many solo agers is who will care for them when they start to need assistance. One survey of solo agers showed that 70% had not identified someone to care for them should they need it, and 35% indicated that they did not have anyone who could help them in a crisis. For individuals without family, proactive planning is essential.

If you are a solo ager, these eight tips can help ensure a safe, supported, and healthy future:

1. Legal documents. Make this the first step. Not having basic legal documents in order can easily and unnecessarily complicate everything else. According to the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, these estate planning documents should be included in your legal planning:

  • durable powers of attorney for health care
  • durable powers of attorney for finances
  • an advance health care directive to physicians (also referred to as a living will)
  • a will
  • anatomical gifts/burial instructions

Incapacitation for any reason puts the burden of decision making on others who may not be prepared for the responsibility. These important documents spell out your end of life wishes. They are legally binding and can relieve stress or a proxy’s concern about making the right choices.

2. Finances. Whether your plan is to keep working or to retire and travel, it is important to understand the options for care down the road and the related costs. Knowing how your finances will support your future care goals is essential. You also need to get a sense of how your finances might be impacted if we have a change in health.

3. There’s No Place Like Home. Take a discerning look around. If you have a steep incline or stairs that are more difficult to navigate with each passing year, it may be time to move. Home adaptions are one possibility and can be cost-effective: improved lighting, grab bars in bathrooms, a low- or no-barrier shower, removing rugs to reduce the likelihood of a fall. Would a move make sense? Are you considering a senior retirement community?

4. Health and Well-Being. Everyone has concerns about health as we age. Perhaps our memory isn’t as sharp as it once was. A family history of high cholesterol or cancer can cause worry. What can you do or change now to ensure a healthy future? How do we stay positive as we grow older? Start with your primary health care provider. Don’t forget your overall well-being. You need to also consider nutrition, hydration, regular physical activity, intellectual and social engagement, regular sleep, alcohol consumption and smoking habits.

5. Community: Family, friends, neighbors, neighborhood and city. Being able to draw on social networks of friends or family is shown to make an important contribution to general well-being and quality of life. Living in a community where you feel safe, that is affordable, and where your goals and needs are met is essential.

6. Transportation. Are you comfortable driving? Do you have someone who is able to provide rides? Having access to public transportation, ride share services, or living in a walkable, accessible community can make a huge difference in your mobility, as well as ability to access entertainment, social and community engagement, shopping, and health care.

7. Hire a Professional Advisor and Advocate. An Aging Life Care Professional can help you find the resources and supports you need to live well and grow older with confidence. Aging Wisdom has specific programs for solo agers, including consultations for proactive planning and coronavirus planning. Our expertise and knowledge in these areas can provide you the tools and assistance to live a safe, supported, and healthy future.

8. Organize a “Go Bag”: These days, we never know when a crisis might hit. Consider prepare ahead by organizing a “go bag” in case you need to leave your home unexpectedly. Preparing in advance allows you take control of your life when your thinking is clear and nerves are steady. Contents of your bag should include:

  • List of your important contacts, including your doctor
  • List of your medications and medical problems
  • Copy of your advance directive and power of attorney documents
  • Copy of your insurance cards and ID
  • Cell phone/tablet plus charger
  • Personal items: change of clothing, undergarments, socks, glasses, hearing aids with batteries, and other essential personal items

Planning is Empowering. We should all give these key topics consideration and reflection. If we find there is a gap in preparedness, engaging the advice of an elder law attorney, financial advisor, or aging life care professional can be a valuable and a smart investment in preparing for your later years.

Don’t leave it to chance. Don’t leave it to family or friends to figure out. Start to prepare now. Planning now can safeguard happiness, health, and peace of mind. Are you ready?

Want help getting your planning in order? Give us a call at 206.456.5155 or schedule a consultation today at agingwisdomconsults.com 

Lisa Mayfield is the founder and co-Principal of Aging Wisdom®, an Aging Life Care™ practice in Seattle. Trained and licensed as a Mental Health Counselor, Geriatric Mental Health Specialist, and a Certified Care Manager, Lisa brings over two decades of experience working with older adults and their families. She is currently serving as the Past-President of the Aging Life Care Association board of directors.