For previous generations, when an older family member or loved one needed help with their daily activities, their other family members would take turns checking in on them, or they would move in with a younger relative. Unfortunately, these might not be realistic solutions in today’s world. Beginning with the baby boomer generation (those born 1946-1964), families tend to be smaller and more spread out. Some individuals do not have spouses or children to support them.
So, what happens when an individual who is solo aging – someone who doesn’t have any younger family members – needs help?
Potential Risks of Solo Aging
Baby boomers and older generations are living longer, healthier lives. Many do very well living independently in their private homes. But as we age, we may face medical issues such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, or dementia. If we fall or experience some sort of accident, we’re more likely to suffer broken bones or other serious injuries.
For those who are solo aging, the isolation can lead to loneliness, depression, poor nutrition, or even alcoholism. They may lapse on taking their medication. Without the benefit of a loved one or family member to regularly check on the solo ager, they may be at an increased risk of health decline. Solo agers also tend to be more susceptible to fraud, abuse, and other financial scams.
Solo Aging: The Time to Prepare is Now
A solo ager can enjoy many happy years of independence. But it’s impossible to predict the future; accidents or illnesses can happen at any time. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan in place for when you need it. After all, solo agers cannot always rely on loved ones or relatives to help them find qualified caregivers or appropriate living arrangements, or help manage their day-to-day activities.
Durable Power of Attorney
It’s important for a solo ager to authorize a third party to help with decision-making, when the solo ager is otherwise unable to do so. The legal document to have in place is called a Durable Power of Attorney.
With a Durable Power of Attorney, you can appoint a trusted person to help with financial, real estate, and legal decisions. If a solo ager is injured, incapacitated, or disabled, the Power of Attorney can help make decisions for the solo ager. The Power of Attorney is effective during the solo ager’s lifetime only. If someone is incapacitated and does not have a Power of Attorney in place or a proper trust plan, the court will select a conservator for them.
Advance Directive for Health Care
In addition to a Durable Power of Attorney, it’s a good idea for the solo ager to have legal documentation in place to ensure they’re cared for in the manner they want, should that need arise. An Advance Directive for Health Care allows a solo ager to memorialize their wishes related to medical treatment and end-of-life care. They can state their preferences regarding life support, or what treatment they’d want to be withheld if they’re in a terminal condition or permanently unconscious. An Advance Directive for Health Care takes effect during a person’s lifetime, if they are unable to express their own wishes due to illness or incapacity or simply choose to allow another person, like a child, to make their medical decisions. An Advance Directive for Health Care also includes a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, who will help ensure that a solo ager’s medical wishes are carried out.
Have Additional Questions? Contact Brian M. Douglas & Associates
While it may seem a little awkward or overwhelming to consider who you’d want to help with decision-making or your preferences for medical care, a solo ager can have peace of mind knowing they are protected. If you, or someone you know, is aging alone, please reach out to us. We’d be happy to discuss your long-term planning needs and the best options for you and your family. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, you can reach us by phone at (770) 933-9009 or via our online contact page.