U.S. News & World Report states that as many as one-third of men and over half of women are single seniors over 65 due to divorce, the death of a spouse, or personal choice. Your average single senior can’t rely on a spouse for care or extra income, they must plan very carefully for their future.
The good news is that there are a large number of people in the same boat looking for a support system or new friends to enrich their life.
Carefully Evaluate and Choose the Best Place to Live
There are many factors to consider as you identify housing options and retirement locales. As a single senior, it makes sense to choose places that offer support or a large number of other single people interested in making new friends and forging bonds.
U.S. News & World Report identified 12 top cities that rank well with large populations of single seniors. San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, Houston, and New York City represent a few of the best places to spend your golden years if you’re a single senior.
Once you decide on a city to live in, then it is time to consider the type of home or apartment you want. Thinking ahead, many boomers look for a one-story dwelling in a walkable neighborhood near grocery stores, drug stores, parks, and restaurants.
Another obvious option for single boomers is to move near other family members that you can call on for support. It makes good sense to live near relatives or good friends as you get older.
Nurture Your Social Network
The one reality that we must face as we get older is that we need one another more than ever. Who hasn’t needed a friend to drive them home from the hospital after a procedure? A simple phone call to check in on a friend who has been ill can make a big difference to a lonely, single senior.
Maintaining a few good friends is critical for single boomers. It takes constant effort since we start losing those friends one by one as the years fly by. That’s why it is so important to make an ongoing effort to join a book group or volunteer to make new friends.
If you have some friends you haven’t spoken to in a while, make the effort to reach out to them and strengthen the relationship. We all know a person or two that we have neglected during busier times of our life.
CNBC suggests having a schedule so that other people expect you to show up. If you fall, someone needs to notice that you’re missing.
Get Your Finances in Order
It is no secret that being a single senior means you’re all on your own financially. That’s why it is so important to assign a health care and financial power of attorney to take over in the event you can no longer manage your finances due to illness or mental incapacity.
There are also monitoring services available that many busy seniors use to alert them if there is any suspicious credit card activity or checking account irregularities. For a reasonable fee, there are services that will pay your bills too.
Purchasing a long-term care insurance policy is also highly recommended. This type of financial tool provides some peace of mind in a world where healthcare costs are staggering and difficult to budget.
Discussing the possibility of establishing a trust with an elder law attorney can also provide some assurance that someone will step in if you are no longer able to manage your affairs. Boomers can write down their legal wishes for a trustee to follow.
Identify Support Resources Before You Need Them
It is always a good idea to prepare for life’s challenges before they happen. Fortunately, there are many senior support services available in most larger cities. In fact, the availability of resources should be a major determinant of where you choose to live.
Below are some recommended places to start looking for support.
1. Senior Facebook Group for Singles – One example of this type of group is The Elder Orphans group for boomers over 55 without a spouse or grown children to lean on. Members exchange information and answer relevant questions.
2. Aging Life Care Association – This is the place to call for medical or non-medical care. These professionals provide referrals for in-home care.
3. Eldercare Locator – You can plug in your zip code on this website to locate caregivers or legal services available in your area.
4. Village to Village Network – These networks of volunteers and paid professionals are designed to help seniors age in place. Money reports that there is a $400 membership fee annually to access services. One example of the services offered is transportation to doctors’ appointments.
5. Elder Co-housing – These communities are designed by older adults for older adults without an administrator getting involved. There are about a dozen of these types of communities scattered around the U.S.
6. National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants – A group of professionals that can offer help navigating everything from medical billing to where to go for specific health problems.
As a single senior, the quality of your life is dependent on having adequate support systems in place to manage health and financial challenges. While married couples often rely heavily on their spouses and grown children when they can, it is quite common for many boomers to spend years on their own without family around. By spending the time necessary to plan for the ups and downs of aging, single senior can enjoy the peace of mind they deserve in their golden years.