When you are retiring single there may be a host of concerns you have. If you have no spouse or children it is doubly important that you have a plan in place for those “what if’s”.
Are You An Elder Orphan?
Sometimes referred to as elder orphans or solo-agers this is a group that is growing. In fact, according to research by Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, 22% of people 65 and over are either an elder orphan or at risk of becoming one. Only 12% of the women who were 80 to 84 years old in 2010 were childless, but that will increase to 16% for that same age range in 2030, according to a report by AARP. And even those who have children may be estranged.
There are a number of concerns people may have when they are aging alone. Who will help take care of me if I get really sick? Will I die alone in a nursing home with no-one to advocate for me? If I begin to have cognitive decline who will help me manage my finances and legal issues? Will I be taken advantage of?
“I am not concerned,” said Kendra “I am perfectly capable of caring for myself. My mind is sharp and I do what I need to do to keep my body healthy also. In fact, I just ran a marathon and did quite well.”
Kendra is 70. And while we all applaud her for being in such good health at 70 the truth is things can happen that are out of your control.
Judy lived on her own until she was 91.
She cooked for herself, went to exercise class and drove where she needed to go. But a blood clot in her leg changed all of that. She went into the hospital. And due to several mistakes, that were made she returned home unable to care for even her basic needs. 24/7 care was needed. Luckily for her, her children, along with a paid caregiver stepped in to help. Without her children, she would have been forced to go into a nursing home. And she may not have had anyone to advocate for her. Besides the cost, she would not have had anyone to hire and manage the caregivers.
So how do you plan for the rest of your life when you are over 65 and single?
Step One: Talk to an Elder Law Attorney
Set up all of the necessary paperwork to plan for your long-term care. Your attorney can also help you connect with other professionals in the area who can help. You will probably need a financial advisor. It is also important that you have someone you really trust designated as your Power of Attorney.
Step Two: Consult with a Geriatric Care Manager
Have someone lined up who can be your advocate and make sure your needs are met. Care managers usually have a background in Nursing or Social Work. Talk to the person who is your POA to make sure they know about the Geriatric Care Manager you have chosen. If you are incapacitated someone with authority to act on your behalf would need to hire their services.
Step Three: Have a Good Support System
Having a strong social circle is important for everyone. Make sure your circle included younger people as well.
“All of my really good friends are 15 to 20 years younger than me” Edythe, 96 “I feel more alive being around younger people. They are more positive and fun to be around. Plus, when I had to stop driving last year it wasn’t a problem. There was always someone available to take me where I needed or wanted to go.”
Step Four: Consider Alternate Living Arrangements
Owning a home is wonderful when you are young. But do you really want to spend your time and money with upkeep and home maintenance projects? If you really want to keep the home, have you considered roommates? Think Golden Girls!
According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. From 2005 to 2015, the older population grew 33 percent, while the number of older home-sharers jumped 88 percent.
One reason may be financial.
Many boomers have not really saved enough money for their retirement. Sharing a space can allow you to stay in a home. Or you could live in a home in the area you want to be but cannot afford on your own.
Of course, you want to make sure you are compatible.
And it is important to have a set of ground rules. If you really don’t like cats and your roommate comes home with one that could be a problem. Also, how often will the family be coming to visit? Who will be coming and how long will they stay? Do you smoke or allow others to smoke in your home? Do you expect we will cook together or eat independently? These are just a few of the questions you should ask.
So Where Do You Find A Compatible Roommate?
In the last few years, a new industry has begun to blossom. Companies such as Roommates4Boomers, Silvernest, and Let’s Share Housing pair renters with homeowners.
And always consult your attorney before you enter into an agreement.