Aging Alone Can Work, If You Have a Support Plan

America has roughly 5 million people age 65 to 74 who are single and childless.1 While these solo retirees report that they enjoy their independence and added freedom, they are also worried about the downsides of being alone, such as loneliness and not having someone to rely on when they need help.

These possible negatives are reflected in a recent AARP survey of solo agers who were 50+. Researchers found that 78% were concerned about losing their independence and having to rely on others, and 61% were concerned about being alone without family and friends.

Compared to a similar survey conducted in 2020, solo agers are increasingly worried about financial and estate planning matters. Specifically, they are concerned about needing money, managing their bills, and having their possessions distributed according to their wishes.

Sara Zeff Geber, author of Essential Planning for Solo Agers, says that the only people morally obligated to take care of you are your family. “If you’re a solo ager and don’t have them waiting in the wings, it’s important to figure out who you can count on.”

Usually it’s adult children who can help with things like medication management, getting to appointments, and overseeing legal matters like real estate transactions. But if you don’t have children to help you with these things, then you need to plan to get help from other sources—and have them in place before the need arises.

Geber says the two most critical questions solo agers must answer are: Where am I going to live, and who are my financial and medical proxies?

If you don’t have immediate family to assist in these roles, she suggests looking to extended family, your religious organization, people you trust in your community, and maybe even former work colleagues.

In AARP’s survey, they found that solo agers often turned to siblings, nieces, and nephews for assistance.

Jackson Rainer, a psychologist and solo ager himself, suggests enlisting the help of professionals such as a financial advisor, lawyer, or patient advocate.

The first step to thriving as a solo ager is admitting that you will one day need this extra help. It’s not a sign of failure to rely on others even when you value your independence. The second step is to asses those areas where you will require the assistance of others. And then third, establish who will be helping you and what you need them to do.

If you or someone you know might be helped with insight into maintaining their financial health and navigating the challenges of solo aging, be sure to get in touch with your trusted advisor.