Solo Aging

“If you cared for your own parents, you know how much help is needed. Without children yourself, you’ve likely wondered who is going to care for you. That’s where we step in. We’ll get you prepared for the support you’ll eventually need and are ready to walk beside you for each stage of your journey.”
—Crystal Littlejohn, MHSA, CMC, CSA; founder, Geriatric Resources

“Solo agers” (older adults who don’t have children) need to make arrangements for others to step in and provide the kinds of assistance that adult children tend to provide. We’ve got you covered! From the early challenges of aging—which Medicare plan is best? How can I recover at home after my hip replacement?—to assistance in the later years, we work with you to determine what you want your elderhood to look like, and then help you plan for the support you’ll need.

Perhaps you are an elderlaw attorney or a fiduciary looking for a care manager to serve as a patient advocate or establish home care or other support services for a client who has no children. We understand the issues of solo aging!

Want to learn more about our special support for solo agers?

Give us a call at 623-776-3098.
Or schedule a free initial consultation.

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Help getting paperwork in order

First things first with solo aging, you need to select decision makers to help should you be unable to speak for yourself (e.g., you have dementia, you are in a coma, you are on the operating table). You will need two of them:

  • Someone to handle your finances (a fiduciary)
  • Someone to make health care decisions (a health care power of attorney)

We can walk you through the selection process. Perhaps you have younger relatives (nieces or nephews) whom you would trust to handle this for you.

If younger family members are not an option, we can recommend Phoenix-area professionals who are exceptional at listening to their clients and then at making decisions for them based on the client’s values and priorities. (We cannot serve directly as your health care decision maker, but if you are enrolled in our Peace of Mind program or are an ongoing care management client, we are absolutely available to advise your health care power of attorney.)

You will need to draw up legal documents to officially name your decision makers so banks, doctors, etc., will recognize their authority to speak for you. We are happy to recommend local attorneys who specialize in estate law and understand the unique needs of solo aging.

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24/7 on-call Peace of Mind program

For clients who want to be sure there’s a knowledgeable advocate who will come to the hospital in the case of an emergency, we offer our Peace of Mind program. It is ideal for solo agers!

Following an initial meeting when we get to know you and your medical conditions, we will be on call for you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We create an emergency folder of important documents that are updated monthly so you never have to worry that they are inaccurate. If something does happen and you need to go to the ER, give us a call and we will walk beside you during the process. (We also give you a card for your wallet that directs emergency personnel to give us a call in case you are not conscious when they arrive.)

We will participate at the hospital as much or as little as you want. From making sure the doctors have your current medication list and understand your underlying conditions, to notifying important contacts such as your health care decision maker. If you would like our care management support, we can be your patient advocate, helping you understand lab tests, decide about treatment, choose the best home care or best rehab when it’s time for discharge planning. We can perform more-mundane tasks too: Do you need us to bring you the charger for your phone? Does the cat need to be fed? Any social appointments to cancel?

You never know when you might need emergency help. As a solo ager, you can be assured that we’re there for you and that you will have someone to rely upon. That’s why we call it our “Peace of Mind” program.

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Medical advocacy

  • Do you feel you are getting the kinds of care you want from the medical system?
  • Are your doctors listening to you and paying attention to your symptoms?
  • Are specialists talking to each other, or is your care disjointed?
  • Do you have questions about Medicare?
  • Are you concerned that your long-term care policy isn’t paying the benefits it should?

You need a patient advocate. We understand the medical system and can make sure that your needs and priorities are being addressed. From attending doctor appointments with you, to conducting a medication review with the pharmacist, to filing an appeal with your long-term care insurance, we make sure the health care system serves you, not the other way around.

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Preplanned surgery

Need a hip replacement? Hernia operation? Cancer surgery? You can get home sooner and recuperate faster if you have a support system established ahead of time. We set up your home just as you will need it, with all your key devices organized in one place, meals at the ready, and appointments in place for in-home therapy. You can regain your strength and stamina in the place where you feel most comfortable. In some situations, you may even be able to reduce the time spent in rehab or switch to an outpatient procedure if you can demonstrate adequate home care and preparation.

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Aging in Place consult

Solo agers have special needs when it comes to aging in place. Of course, you prefer to stay where you are. But you also have to be realistic about your isolation and be especially proactive about preventing problems and creating safety plans, just in case. This means you need to prepare proactively.

Many clients connect with us because they want an Aging in Place consult. We can come to your house and discuss how suitable it is for you, as a solo, to age in place. Part of our consult will be to give you a sense of the costs involved to remain at home until the end of your life. This way you and your financial planner can look at your resources and adjust financial allotments as needed. For instance:

  • How safe is your house in terms of fall prevention? Falls are a key threat to senior independence. Do you have a lot of stairs? How is the lighting? Is there a bathroom on the first floor? Do you need to do any remodeling?
  • What precautions do you need for crime prevention? How “smart” is your home so far? What improvements should you make in terms of motion sensors outside, landscaping revisions, a video doorbell, etc.
  • How will you address loneliness and social isolation? Studies show that loneliness affects our health and longevity to a degree equivalent to smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. It is an important “risk factor” in solo aging. You need to proactively address it. We will discuss nearby options and technology that can help you stay connected even when health or mobility challenges may make getting out more difficult.
  • How is your neighborhood situated for senior transportation? According to the American Automobile Association, on average we outlive our ability to drive safely by seven to ten years. You don’t want to be homebound for that length of time! Will you be using Uber or Lyft? Do you need to think about moving to a more central location?
  • What is the likely cost for home care assistance? As we age, we usually need help with light housekeeping, making meals, running errands. And as we get to the end of our lives, we need more personal care (bathing, dressing, perhaps incontinence care). If you develop a condition such as Alzheimer’s, you might need assistance for several years. Medicare does not cover home care. You will need to pay for this care out of pocket unless you have veteran benefits or long-term care insurance. Let us help you estimate the costs so you can factor home care into your planning.

Whether you are generally healthy and want to do some financial planning about the future, or you are beginning to notice you need more support now, we can help you strategize to age in place. Give us a call at 623-776-3098 or schedule a free initial consultation.

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If you should decide that aging in place is too expensive, there are several options:

  • If you wish to stay in the Phoenix area, we would be happy to work with you to find the best fit in terms of assisted living or memory care. Or you might want to consider a continuing care retirement community, where you can move in while you are fairly independent and enjoy many amenities of an active lifestyle. As your care needs increase, you can stay on the same campus—near the same friends—but simply move to a different building, depending on the intensity of care required. We can give you ballpark estimates for all the options and make recommendations for specific companies when you actually have the need.
  • If you wish to move out of the area, perhaps move closer to other family members who can help, we can help you decide which town is the wisest choice. We can locate care options in the new town, get you situated with a care manager there, and facilitate the transfer of your medical records to your new physician and medical team.

In either case, we can recommend senior move managers who can help you downsize, profitably liquidate unwanted items, and pack and then move your belongings. They can also coordinate with your realtor to clean out your old home and prepare it for staging and putting it up for sale.

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End-of-life care

As you near the end of your journey, we are there to help. We will work with your attorney, fiduciary, and health care power of attorney to be sure things are unfolding as you wished. We will work with your doctors to be sure you receive the treatments you desire (and don’t receive any you don’t want).

We can work with in-home caregivers to provide care as you need it. If you want to work with hospice, we will recommend the best hospice and coordinate with them to see that you receive all the services they have to offer.

We will assist you with funeral planning and pulling together important documents if you had not had them in place before this. If there are family members you would like to have contacted, we can do that as well.

Death may be a difficult topic to discuss, but there truly is such a thing as a “good death.” While you are still able, we will talk with you to determine what a “good death” means to you and then do all in our power to be sure your wishes are fully actualized.

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