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Making Care Arrangements for Solo Agers – Older Adults Living Independently

A solo ager is an older adult living independently. The solo ager has no spouse or partner, and no children to rely on. One statistic says that nearly one-third of seniors live by themselves. Solo agers, in particular, need to plan for their future living, health, and legal circumstances. Solo agers need to build a team that may include extended family, trusted friends, and professional advisors. This may mean building relationships with nieces and nephews, making friends with younger people, assessing your housing situation, and finding available community resources to enable you to "age in place."


It is critical for solo agers to have all the important legal documents in place. The Advance Health Care Directive will name an agent to make health care decisions and give direction for end-of-life care. As a companion document, everyone should have an authorization for release of health information under HIPAA ("HIPAA Authorization") so the doctor can share health information with selected people.


Also, absolutely essential is a Durable Power of Attorney. You need someone with legal authority to manage your finances if you can no longer do so on your own. If you are worried about giving up control before you are ready, the Durable Power of Attorney can be restricted so it won't become effective unless or until you are determined to lack capacity (typically by a statement from your doctor - hence the importance of the HIPAA Authorization.)


And, even if you have no immediate family, you should not ignore planning for your estate. Without a Will, your assets will go to your heirs. Without close relatives, your heirs might include people you have never met. This is a missed opportunity for you to benefit a favorite charity under a proper Will or Trust.


All this planning ahead may seem problematic if you don't have extended family or friends suitable to name in a Health Care Directive or Durable Power of Attorney. But there are professionals who can help. In California, we have licensed professional fiduciaries who can act as agents under Durable Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directives. And there are other professional designations such as Senior Care Managers and Daily Money Managers to fill in the gaps where help is needed.


These days, solo agers are lucky there so many resources, books, articles, and support groups available to build community and find help. The point is for solo agers to plan ahead, before there is a crisis.

By Lisa C. Alexander, Esq.


Direct Line: 310-656-4310

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