Are you a “solo ager“? This is the new term being passed around to describe baby boomers who do not have children. This strong and independent group faces various unique issues in aging, namely who to designate as guardian and decision-maker if ever they become unable to do so themselves. In her book, Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers, author Sara Zeff Geber, Ph.D. outlines several options to consider:
- Sift through your support system. Commonly, a solo ager’s spouse is the natural option for guardianship and to make crucial decisions pertaining to health care, but it’s important to have a minimum of one and preferably two younger alternate options. Consider brother or sisters and their children, good friends, and neighbors, considering whether or not each candidate holds comparable values and is also somebody it is possible to fully trust to make decisions according to your wishes.
- Hire a professional guardian. Professional guardians, also known as private guardians or professional fiduciaries, are getting to be popular for solo agers. If interested in this choice, it is necessary to interview a number of candidates to ensure they will have the experience and knowledge, and don’t forget to ask for references. Check with your attorney for recommendations, or the National Guardianship Association or Professional Fiduciary Association in your state.
- Accept a court-appointed guardian. If a solo ager has not selected a guardian and is suddenly unable to make care-related and/or financial decisions, a probate court will designate a guardian to manage his or her affairs.
When selecting potential guardians, collect answers to questions such as:
- How long have you been in practice?
- Have you been certified by the National Guardian Association?
- Are you bonded and insured?
- What will be the succession plan if you predecease me?
- Are background checks performed on all your employees?
- What is your familiarity with the particular medical conditions I’m facing?
- Exactly what are your fees, and just how often will I be billed?
Once your guardian option has been determined, make sure that your attorney updates your existing (or creates a new) durable power of attorney or advance health care directive, will, and durable power of attorney for finances.
To get more help and support in planning for long-term care needs, phone the elder care professionals at North River Home Care. We can partner with seniors to produce a plan of care to ensure needs are fully met now and can carry on being met effectively as needs change in the years in the future, always in respect with each individual’s wishes. Give us a call at (781) 352-0939 to learn more.