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Elder Orphan: Creating a Plan for Aging Alone

By Carol Marak January 07, 2016 Lifestyle

It’s important to build a long-term care and retirement plan early on, especially if you are single and don’t have children. The deeper I go into my sixties, the more I have become aware of the need to thoroughly prepare. 

But I refer to the things that go beyond the legal paperwork and saving money. It’s no question that these matters are necessary and should be done long before anything else. But, what should happen next?

Retirement Planning Shouldn’t Just Be About Money

What I want to talk about here is how to retire well; the community of people to cultivate, the person(s) who advocates for me and the place the best suits my preferences. The other things that matter are the preferred activities, maintaining good health, living within my means, getting around, staying connected, volunteering, and avoiding isolation.

Since most of us go through life giving little thought to these concerns, I plan to make them a part of my new year’s resolution. Since I work with aging experts at, it’s high time I do. The matters that will get my attention in 2016 are my living preferences, my independence, my safety, and my care. The plan will be shared here with readers.

Aging Alone is a Major Issue for Women Like Us

A few months ago, Sixty and Me published one of my first posts on the subject of elder orphans. The article, How to Plan Your Elderly Care if You Don’t Have Children or a Spouse, received numerous comments that stimulated deeper curiosity. Many of them were from women, who like me, are single with no kids.

Real concerns and tips shared:

“When my late husband was in the hospital, some years ago, I realized how important it was to have an advocate when you are ill and in the hospital, especially when you are old. I don’t have one, so I hope I never find myself in that position.”

“An avenue of care is girlfriends. I’ve been having more conversations with my friends, both married and on their own, about the possibility of combining households. The only caveat is to have a lot of conversation ahead of time about likes and dislikes and do a trial period to test compatibility.”

“Check out the book by Beth Baker, With A Little Help From Our Friends: Creating Community As We Grow Older.”

“Please check out my book on how to go about doing this from the inside out. It is called, ‘Your Quest for Home- Finding Your Ideal Community in Later Life.’ It’s on Amazon. Great when combined with Beth’s book.”

“I have friends in a distant city who have suggested sharing a home, but, I would be the one to carry the majority of the ‘financial load.’ I can’t do that because I don’t have money.”

“Share your house and rent out rooms.”

One of my other articles, written for the Huffington Post 50, “Who will care for us; the Aging, Childless, and Single,” received a lot of submissions as well:

“Work to eliminate debt as quickly as possible. It’s more about the quality of life that being debt free affords you. Fewer monthly bills to pay means more disposable income. Yes, we will always have taxes utilities, etc. But, at least, we won’t have a mortgage, credit card bills or car payments on top of that.”

“The village movement can help, but, it takes a lot to get going. In our community, it is more of a struggle because our agency has been providing for several communities.”

“See a doctor once a year, get tests, get immunizations, eat a Mediterranean diet, exercise like a fiend and take care of your teeth. I lead a physically active life. I also have a DNR (do-not-resuscitate order)… We had to make this decision for my mother and I was the one to communicate her wishes to the medical professionals. I have no regrets doing this.”

“People who are married and have children can’t be sure that their grown children will assist them in old age. Some kids live very far away. Some can’t be bothered.”

“Better get used to taking care of yourself and expecting nothing from other people because every government agency associated with help for the elderly is going to be eliminated by the Republican Party – Social Security, Medicare, and all ‘safety net’ programs are on the chopping block right now.”

You can see the original comments by clicking on links to the articles in this post. The commentaries illustrate real concerns of individuals about aging alone. It’s my goal to help lighten the stresses of aging alone.

It’s January, I’m starting my #elderorphan and aging plan. Come back for updates. Please leave your concern or suggestion in the comment box, let’s continue the dialog. Are you concerned about aging alone? What are you doing to prepare for your retirement, beyond saving money, which is obviously also important?

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Lisa Stege

The time passed since this article was written shows the lies told about the Republican Party’s intentions to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, and other programs. (and why is it that it is said that SS will run out of money (which we paid for) instead of Welfare???

The Author

Carol Marak founded the Elder Orphan Facebook Group and She’s an experienced family caregiver who focuses her efforts on solo agers. Carol believes the act of giving care puts primary caregivers at risk of aging alone. Follow Carol on and enjoy her Live events on smart aging topics.

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