Having a health care advocate is increasingly important as we age to make sure the right questions are asked at doctor appointments and critical information is recorded and understood. As an increasing number of seniors become “elder orphans” who live alone without family nearby, creating a close network of friends that can support one another as they age is even more critical for today’s seniors.
According to the 2012 United States Census, nearly 33 per cent of Americans between the ages of 45 and 63 are single and likely to become elder orphans, living without family members or other loved-ones. As a group, they are more likely to be socially and physically isolated and more vulnerable to losing their independence than seniors with children and extended family to help care for them. The rapid rise of “grey divorce” among the Baby Boomer generation is also expected to increase the number of seniors living alone over the next 20 years and beyond.
Older adults who are single and live away from any close family need to plan for their old age as early as possible. Planning for old age alone includes creating a strong community of friends and social connections as well as ensuring they will be financially prepared for what the future holds. Designating a health care buddy, to advocate for your health needs when you cannot, is an important piece of any aging alone strategy. Other issues to consider when going it alone include future care giving needs, housing, financial and estate planning and end of life wishes.
To read more about how to prepare for old age alone follow this link to a recent report by U.S. News.