Have you heard of the term “solo ager”? Solo aging is used to describe baby boomers who do not have adult children to help care for them during their golden years. As boomers start to age without children they can face unique challenges. These independent and strong seniors will need to make decisions regarding guardianship, medical directives, and their living arrangements.
Effective planning can help ensure that there is a plan in place for you and that your wishes are thoroughly outlined. This is especially important if you are childless or if you live on your own. In most cases, assigning a guardian can be the best course of action to take for senior citizens.
In her book, Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers, author Sara Zeff Geber, Ph.D. outlines several options to consider when planning for long-term senior care. Establishing guardianship and legal directives can protect your rights and ensure that your wishes are being met.
Read on to learn some of Dr. Geber’s tips for how to plan for old age and being childless.
Sift Through Your Support System
Commonly, a solo ager’s spouse is the natural option for legal guardianship and end of life care. Legal guardians are generally designated to help make crucial decisions when you are not able to do so. Guardians have the authority to make medical care decisions on your behalf, take over paying bills and assist with estate planning.
While spouses are common guardians, it is preferable to have two younger alternative options as well. If you do not have children, consider brothers or sisters, nieces, nephews, or even close friends or neighbors. Candidates for guardianship should hold similar values to your own. You should trust them to make decisions per your wishes.
Hire A Professional Guardian
If you are not able to find someone that you know to be your legal guardian, you could hire a professional. Professional guardians, also known as private guardians or professional fiduciaries, are popular among those who are planning for old age and being childless. These professional candidates can be hired with the help of your elder law attorney or through an agency.
If you choose to go through an agency it is important to interview potential guardians thoroughly. Ask for references, inquire about their experience, and find out what knowledge they have of local laws. Candidates can come from organizations such as the National Guardianship Association or the Professional Fiduciary Association in your state.
When selecting professional 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 is the succession plan if you predecease me?
- Are background checks performed on all of your employees?
- What is your familiarity with the particular medical conditions I am facing?
- What are your fees, and how often will I be billed?
Accept A Court-Appointed Guardian
If you do not have children or family to help provide guardianship to you, you may accept a court-appointed guardian. These guardians are generally assigned if there is a sudden need for guardianship and a guardian has not already been designated. The court system may step in if you are unable to make care-related or financial decisions.
In these situations, a probate court will designate a guardian to manage your affairs. Court-appointed guardians can act as geriatric care managers, be financial assistants, or aid with estate planning and probate. These guardians work to be as senior-friendly as possible, and when necessary, allow you to have a say in your planning process.
Selecting Your Legal Guardian
As elderly men and women age, they must know that their needs and wishes are being met. Knowing how to plan for old age and being childless can seem daunting, but having a trusted guardian in place can ease significant burdens.
Whether you choose to age in place, move to a continuous care retirement community or assisted living facility, or enter a nursing home, having a guardian can be highly beneficial. Guardians act as a safety net of sorts. They can ensure your finances, medical care, and estate are handled appropriately when you are unable to do so.
Once you have chosen a guardian you need to work with your attorney to update your health care proxy and all related documents, like your power of attorney, health care directives and will. You, your attorney, and your guardian should go over all the information and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Compassionate Support As You Navigate How To Plan For Old Age And Being Childless
If you are looking for long-term care or support, look no further than the professionals at North River Home Care. We provide elder care assistance and planning for aging seniors and their families throughout Massachusetts.
Our team partners with seniors to help produce a plan of care to ensure their needs are fully met. We also provide regular follow-ups to update care plans as needs and circumstances change.