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How to Plan for Successful Aging as a “Solo Ager

How to Plan for Successful Aging as a “Solo Ager”

Blog  |  May 1, 2024

Have you heard the term “solo ager”? It’s a term coined by Dr. Sara Geoff Gerber in her book, Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers. The phrases “solo ager” and “solo aging” have become new standards for highlighting people who are aging without adult children or other family support.

Statistically speaking, about 27% of the U.S. population over 60 lives alone, and many who might even have adult children choose to determine their own aging journey plan. So, where to begin? Start by approaching your aging intentionally and putting together a plan.

Getting Your Ducks in Order.

Solo aging is satisfying and secure with a little proactive planning and preparation.

  • You know the saying, “Use it or lose it.” First and foremost, prioritize physical and mental health with regular exercise, socializing and hobbies. Research is showing that we can maintain brain fitness by keeping it active and getting in our aerobic exercise.
  • Grow your social network. It’s natural for friends and family to pass as we get older. This means you’ll need to consciously increase your social network as you age. Volunteer, join some clubs and put yourself in the position to meet new people.
  • Invest in home technology, such as the RING doorbell system, utilize the amazing tech available with your iPhone and identify a buddy system for “checking in.” For example, perhaps you and a best friend agree to ping each other every day via cell phone to make sure you’re good. Investing in an iWatch or other technology with a geotracker is also a good idea. Share it with a close friend.
  • Get your paperwork in order. This includes a living will, a will for assets, a plan for your pets and instructions on where you want to go should you unexpectedly need care or rehabilitation. Spoiler alert: Don’t be at the whim of hospital social workers to find you a skilled rehab. Pre-determine where you want to go and have it available in your wallet. (Pssst … Lutheran Home is a fabulous, upscale solution.)
  • Make an appointment with an estate planning attorney and share your financial plan, including setting aside funds for healthcare expenses and long-term care. Although it’s not fun to think about, take the pragmatic approach and ask about setting up a guardianship relationship should you ever become incapacitated.

Somebody to Watch Over Me: How a Life Plan Community Can Become a Foundational Piece to Your Solo Aging Plan.

Choosing a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), also known as a Life Plan Community, is an incredible opportunity for solo agers. Most often non-profits, these communities offer a range of housing options and on-site healthcare services, providing a supportive environment as needs change over time. With access to amenities, social activities, and care resources, CCRCs empower solo agers to age independently and confidently. PLUS, should you become unable to care for yourself, the community’s social workers will watch over you. (Note about non-profits: They are run by volunteer boards. Rather than frequently changing hands and paying shareholders like for-profits do, non-profits put the money back into the community.)

The key to choosing a Life Plan Community is to start early, because to qualify as an “entrance fee” resident, you have to be active and independent. A common mistake many people make is waiting too long. However, a common sentiment of people who’ve chosen a Life Plan Community is, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

The first thing you’ll love about community living (whether you’re a loner or a social butterfly) is how nice it is to have people around you daily. The second thing you’ll love is how nice it is to have workout classes, a gym and other amenities that are within walking distance of your front door. This makes it a lot easier to stay fit.

Above all, Life Plan Communities earn their value by watching over you for the rest of your lifetime. Most non-profit communities also operate a benevolence fund that kicks in should you run out of money due to no fault of your own. That means you’ll never have to worry about another move.

An entrance fee is charged upfront and a variety of refundable options are available. Many solo agers choose to put down a lower amount, not expecting a refund when they pass. The beauty of this model is that you’ll practically know exactly how much money you’ll need to live out your life. That’s because the monthly service fee covering dining, home maintenance and activities stays relatively the same, excluding inflation raises.

A Built-In Social Network. (And We Don’t Mean Facebook!)

 As a non-profit organization, Lutheran Life Communities offers a diverse range of living environments tailored to the needs of solo agers at Wittenberg Village in Crown Point, Indiana; Pleasant View in Ottawa, Illinois; and Luther Oaks in Bloomington, Illinois.

Solo agers can flourish and roam the globe without worrying about their homes. It’s true lock-and-go freedom. Another freedom is not having to worry about the uncertainty of future support and healthcare needs, as all three are Life Plan Communities with a continuum of care should they need it.

We’ve been around for 130 years and continue to grow and evolve to meet the needs of today’s modern elders, which increasingly include solo agers! Check out our complimentary events page or schedule a tour today!