Solo Agers, a Recap
Aging Matters

In late March, the American Society on Aging held its annual conference in San Francisco. I'm delighted to report the panel discussion was a success. We had a full house and the room monitor turned attendees away.

The topic of growing older at home without the support of a spouse, partner, or adult children nearby is gaining attention from professionals and businesses. Even community services recognize the significant needs that segment faces. The list of panelists included, Sara Zeff Geber, author of Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers, Maria Carney, M.D., Geriatrician, Wendi Burkhardt, Silvernest, Scott Moody, K4Connect and Carol Marak, Founder, Elder Orphan Facebook group. Key takeaways:

Sara suggested that people need to do the following:

  • Have the conversations with relatives, friends, and spouse,
  • Visit with Financial advisor to plan your retirement and attorney to set up legal documents, and insurance agents to see what types of policies will help you get proper care
  • Put it in writing - Power of Attorney for Finances and Health care, Will and/or trust and an Advance directive for health care,
  • Let your physician know of your circumstances and visit once a year,
  • Explore long-term care options, visit potential communities, talk to people with experience.

Maria discussed medical issues that if ignored could put older adults at risk:

  • Identify All Medical Issues
  • Identify Cognitive and Functional Abilities
  • Obtain Detailed Social Support Information
  • Create a Manageable and Realistic Treatment Plan
  • Utilize Service Delivery to Home
  • Make Safety and Injury Prevention a Priority
  • Address Safety and Injury Issues
  • Address Goals of Care and Advance Directives
  • Understand Privacy Issues (HIPAA)
  • Assess Decision-Making Capacity and Involve the individual as much as possible
  • Determine If Guardianship Is needed.

Wendi identified the burdens that solo agers face: Big expenses, Little savings and Isolation.Solution? Shared economy services like Silvernest, a roommate matching service for baby boomers and empty-nesters.

Scott talked about technology and how it connects, serves and empowers older adults and people living with disabilities. Things we need: Make smart and responsive homes to create independent lives, Connect wellness devices to enable healthier and active lives, and Create social connection to enable happier and connected lives.

I discussed solo agers' deep concerns: Affordable housing, Finding rides especially to and from the medical treatments, Making tough medical and health decisions alone, Social isolation and little support. That's a quick re-cap of our presentation. The attendees walked away with a fresh awareness of the older segment living alone and hidden in plain sight.

Sign up for my Age with Purpose newsletter. Send an email to and in the subject line put Newsletter. Carol Marak, aging advocate and editor at She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

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.

Learn More

More on Elder Orphan Resources