[Updated: July 30, 2023 | Published: April 27, 2023]
As an older adult, the decisions you make regarding your aging process are of utmost importance. Retirement planning for solo agers – singles retiring without the support of a partner or adult children – is even more vital.
Did you know that Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 are more likely than earlier generations to retire as solo agers? Today, 26 million Americans over 50 live alone, making this the quickest-growing demographic in the U.S. It’s surprising to note that one in six Americans over 55 has no children, according to a Pew research study.
As you get older, there’s a good chance you’ll need some long-term care or support services. Many seniors rely on a partner or adult children to assist with housing, social services, and healthcare. However, if you’re single and without familial support, it’s crucial to establish your own network for tackling life’s uncertainties. Start planning while you’re healthy and independent to ensure you’re prepared.
The good news is you have plenty of options and resources to help you plan for your ideal retirement lifestyle, housing and long-term care. Keep reading to discover more about retirement planning for solo agers.
1. Envision Your Ideal Senior Lifestyle
Are you ready to explore the endless possibilities of your next life chapter? Then think deeply about the answers to questions like the ones outlined below.
- Where would you like to live? Are you happy in your current community, or do you yearn to move to a more exciting locale? Consider whether you want to live closer to siblings, extended family or longtime friends.
- Describe your ideal living situation. For example, if you’re in a single-family home, do you want to downsize to a smaller condo or apartment? Get roommates who share your interests? Move to a maintenance-free senior living community?
- What do you want to do with your time? Would you like to continue working in your current field? Start a business? Write a novel? Visit with friends and extended family? Travel the world? With enough time and planning, you can make it happen!
- Consider your social circle. Who will be your companions after retirement? As a solo ager, you may need to spend more time nurturing social networks than someone who is married or has adult children.
- What savings, investments and other resources will you have available to fund your retirement dreams?
After you’ve come up with a list of your desires and preferences, it’s time to develop a retirement plan for solo aging.
2. Consult with Trusted Advisors
Professionals and trusted associates can assist you in planning, allowing you to focus on what matters most to you as you plan for retirement.
Assemble an advisory council, including a lawyer, financial advisor, accountant, and your doctor or geriatric care manager. To provide a personal touch, engage trusted friends, clergy, and extended family members. You can consult with your advisors separately or as a group.
Consider hiring an elder law attorney to create legal documents to protect you in case you’re unable to make future decisions for yourself. These can include a will, trust, power of attorney, and advance directives such as a healthcare power of attorney and living will.
Talk to a certified financial planner about your goals, retirement savings, retirement accounts, investment time horizon and risk tolerance.
Then create a budget that considers your projected retirement income from pensions, Social Security, investments, and expected living costs. Finally, save as much as possible while still earning an income. Ultimately, you want to have enough funds for living expenses, amenities and activities after you retire.
If you have substantial assets, you might engage a bank’s trust unit to help manage your finances. For example, a friend, relative, or lawyer can oversee the bank’s decisions, giving you peace of mind.
Stay in control of your medical decisions even if you cannot make them yourself. For example, set up a plan with a personal care coordinator and choose a trusted representative to serve as your healthcare power of attorney.
After consulting with advisors and trusted associates, you should have at least an outline of your retirement plan.
4. Attend to Your Health
You’re more likely to thrive later in life if you nurture your health now. Staying physically active, mentally engaged, and maintaining a robust social network are three essential ingredients to a healthy life for those living solo.
You can start with a checkup from your primary care provider, but focusing on more than just medical care is essential. Practice healthy habits like eating well, exercising and staying hydrated. Prioritize getting enough rest. And take steps to reduce or eliminate unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking.
Never stop learning. It pays off in the long run! Studies have found that those with more advanced education maintain better mental functioning as they age. Why? Experts think that getting in the habit of being mentally active helps keep memory strong.
When we challenge our brains with mental exercise, it activates processes that stimulate communication among individual brain cells, helping to maintain them. Luckily, there are endless ways to stay mentally fit, from lifelong learning classes to picking up a new hobby or volunteering in your community.
Loneliness can be debilitating, so don’t forget to consider the social and emotional aspects of aging. This can be more difficult for solo agers, but building a support network is worth the time. For example, National Institute on Aging research associates social isolation and loneliness with significant physical and mental health risks.
5. Evaluate Retirement Housing Options for Solo Aging
There’s no place like home, as Dorothy famously chanted to initiate her return to Kansas.
Home is a haven, comfort zone and base for your vibrant retirement lifestyle.
Everyone has a unique vision of home, and you’ll be happy to learn that there are more options than ever for today’s seniors. This AARP article lists 11 common options, ranging from aging in your existing single-family home, 55+ apartments, and cohousing to assisted living and continuing care retirement communities.
In evaluating your options, factor in the availability of shopping, medical care, recreation and senior support services in your favorite locations. You’ll need these as you navigate life as a solo ager. You might also want to consider a place where you can walk to these amenities.
LifeCare communities like Friendship Village of Dublin can allow you to socialize, stay active and access healthcare – all in an environment designed with your needs in mind.
Solo Agers are Welcomed Here!
At Friendship Village of Dublin, we understand solo agers face unique challenges. We offer a variety of resources and services tailored to your needs. Choose from:
- Independent living apartments sized for solo agers on our scenic, 29-acre campus along the Scioto River. And all apartments come with LifeCare, an all-in-one package of flexible services, amenities and access to future healthcare at a predictable cost.
- LifeCare in the comfort of your own home through our innovative LifeCare for Life and Friendship At Home programs.
- Starting in 2024, we’ll also support solo agers in The Bailey At Bridge Park luxury senior rental community.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you plan for a healthy and independent retirement as a solo ager. Call 614-426-0334 to speak with a Residency Counselor, or use the form below to schedule a visit to our scenic, resort-style community along the Scioto River in Dublin.