How to Plan Your Care When Living Without a Spouse or Child
Aging Matters

Planning for long-term care is difficult enough even when you have a child or spouse to help out. But not having anyone to rely on will add more pressure to an individual's later stage of life. Even my parents didn't want to be a burden on me or my siblings, but in the end we were their "senior care" support. The family is the backbone of elder care today in the America.

The National Caregiver Alliance says there are 65 million people in the U.S. who provide care for an aged, a chronically ill, or a physically challenged family member or friend during any given year. In 2010, the number of caregivers for a person over 80 was seven to one. That number shrinks to four to one in 2030, and three to one by 2050.

The sum of adult children caregivers does not sustain the growing demand to help the old and frail. As the boomers age, the number of family caregivers will take a dive.

Worries of the Single Aging People Living Alone

The single people living alone have more to worry about than just growing frail. What happens if one develops a form of dementia or breaks a limb? My sisters and I face this dilemma, but so do many of our friends and kinfolks.

Most of us live with one or more of the following predicaments:

  • We never married
  • We never remarried
  • Spouses died
  • Children live away
  • Or we have no children

If you fall in one or more of these categories, here's how to manage old age:

  • Adopt a (trusted) friend or family who lives near and assign part of your will to them. Get advice from an elder law attorney before taking this step.
  • Negotiate long-term care with the nieces and nephews.
  • Live in a joint household of trusted "extended" family members and friends and help one another.
  • Find an elder law attorney who specializes in chronic care advocacy.
  • Get a will, a living will or other advance directives, a health care proxy, power of attorney and consider long-term care insurance. Check out the Five Wishes website.
  • Learn the local transportation options before you're required to stop driving.
  • Get a hobby, eat healthy, make friends, attend church, join a support group and the senior center.
  • Check with the local Department of Aging to understand your long-term care support and service options.

If you have access to the Internet, get to know these organizations:

  • Family Caregiver Alliance, caregiver.org, (800) 445-8106.
  • National Family Caregivers Association, nfcacares.org, (800) 896-3650.

The suggestions outlined here require research, due diligence and the advice of an elder law attorney. It's important to make preparations before a decline. Proper planning adds an element of dignity to the elderly years.



Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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