How to Prepare for Old Age Alone - 9 Ways to Plan for Old Age
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Growing old is scary enough on its own so we can only imagine having to do without a partner. This is why you need to know how to prepare for old age alone well in time because this would give you the peace of mind you need to not have to worry too much.
There could be several reasons why you are growing old single but whatever the reason, you are not alone. According to research conducted by Pew Research Center in 2019, 36% of people over the age of 65 are single.
You might be lucky enough to have children that will help alleviate some burdens you have, but they also have their own lives and will not be able to cater to your needs all the time. This is why you also need to know what to do as an old and single person.
First things first, you should not be scared of growing old alone because these days planning for old age is not as difficult thanks to the myriad of services being offered to the elderly to make their lives more comfortable.
You should also avoid dwelling on whatever circumstances you went through that led to you being alone in your old age. At the risk of sounding insensitive – we deeply apologize – what’s done is done and the best thing you can do for your peace of mind is to move forward.
That being said, if you find yourself growing old alone, here are some things you can do to help yourself as a single elderly person.
1. Start to prepare early
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In preparing for old age, you need to start quite early so that you can have time to take into account several things that may require time to be fruitful. For instance, pension payments for when you are retired should be started well in advance so that enough can be accumulated to last in retirement. In order to know what you will need, an after-retirement budget will be needed which increases the need to begin to plan early.
Other things you need to plan ahead for are your medical care plans – medication especially – and where you intend on staying after retirement. Financial advisers also advise that it is very advantageous to pay off any serious debts you may have before you enter retirement. That way, you will have fewer obligations to fulfill from your income.
2. Consider medical Power of Attorney and Proxies
Planning for old age is not complete without properly catering to any medical needs you might have. As much as we don’t want it to happen, a situation may arise where you are unable to take your medication or an operation might need to be done on you but because the physicians don’t have consent, they are unable to do anything.
This is why you need a proxy or a person to have medical power of attorney over your affairs. This will ensure that even if you are aging alone, there is still someone out there who has the authority to get you the help that you want. This person must absolutely be someone that you trust and most people usually pick family or friends for such a role. If you are growing old with no family and would prefer not to use friends, you can use an attorney who specializes in such things instead.
3. Try to stay healthy
There is an adage that goes, ‘Health is Wealth’ and in old age, this couldn’t be more true. The body is growing old and so cannot be a lot of the things it used to be able to. It would be best if you were able to help it along by staying healthy so that it has fewer problems. This is especially true when you are aging without family as there will be fewer people to help you when your body develops these issues.
You should therefore try to eat healthily and engage in exercise. For a good plan on exercising, you can meet a fitness trainer at a gym as they usually have specialized programs for the elderly. Don’t forget to worry less, meditate, or engage in whatever mental health exercises that will keep you all-round healthy.
Related article: Foods to eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle
4. Maintain a social circle
It is now a widely accepted scientific fact that loneliness can cause a person to die before their time. As a person growing old with no family, or one who will be living alone in old age, this is something that needs to be guarded against.
You can do this by trying to make new friends and reaching out to old ones. You can also look for an elderly people’s social club to join where you can engage in activities that will be more up to your speed but still keep you physically and mentally stimulated.
Seeing as we are living in an age of information where a lot of things are online, you can also reach out to other elderly people on social media through various elderly people groups and pages. And remember, if you can’t find a social club – online or physical – you can start one up.
5. Plan your estate
A lot of people end up regretting not sorting out their financial affairs before it is too late. As a person growing old without a partner, you need to plan your finances such that you are well taken care of without having to rely on others.
This is why meeting financial advisors and assigning someone financial power of attorney is how to prepare for old age alone 101. Financial advisors will tell you how best to organize your assets such as using a trust or the investment accounts you can use to increase your income.
The person or institution that has your financial power of attorney can manage your finances in the event that you cannot, such as by paying taxes and bills. For this reason, they need to be someone very trustworthy or a reputable institution that specializes in such affairs.
6. Construct a will and a living will
Some people consider writing a will to be ‘old people things’ and so only plan to write one when they get old. Experts do not believe that this is the wisest of moves and instead recommend that you come up with a will as soon as you can and then regularly updating it to reflect current realities.
As an addition to a will, one can also write a living will which advises the relevant people what your wishes are if you are unable to tell them yourself for whatever reason. Being old and alone needs this more because it gives people less confusion about what to do in situations where you might be incapacitated as they would not know you as well as a partner might.
7. Talk to your people about your choices
Even if you have written a living will that will help your family and friends help you when you can’t, it is recommended that you still try to inform yourself when you can. Talk to those you trust and keep them updated on your plans and what you would like them to do when you are unable to do things for yourself.
This is advantageous because you can gain valuable advice from these people that you can then incorporate into your own plans to make for an even better living.
8. Consider moving to an ideal location
When living alone after 60, you need to consider how ideal your environment and living conditions are for you. In other words, does it offer you the right kind of support to make your life easier as you grow older?
Some of you will be able to rely on your children to find you proper accommodation but for those aging without children, you will need to sort out your living plans such that you live as comfortably as possible.
A rising trend amongst the elderly is that of moving from suburban areas to areas closer to the city. This way, one doesn’t have to drive as much or go too far to access basic amenities such as pharmacies and grocery shops. Some, however, have relocated to small towns that are quieter. These (and others) are options that you can look into and decide to either move or stay based on your preferences.
9. Think of a job you could do
Just because you are getting old doesn’t mean you can’t be useful. For instance, a lot of world leaders – including some from developed countries – are elderly people. If they can do jobs that are that stressful, you can find something to do as well.
You don’t have to find something that would be too strenuous however. Indeed we recommend that you find something that doesn’t take a lot of your time, doesn’t require much effort, and above all, is something that you like or wouldn’t mind doing. This has the double advantage of providing you with some income on the side, as well as keeping you mentally and physically stimulated.
Related article – How to stay single and be happy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I take care of myself in old age?
- Exercise – You are at an age where you will not be as active as you once were. You, therefore, need exercise to keep your body healthy and capable of staving off the negative effects of a lack of physical health.
- Eat well – Try to eat a balanced diet as much as you can. Throw in fruits, vegetables, and legumes for protein. The nutrients these products contain will be extremely helpful to your body functions especially in old age.
- Take the right medication – Being old comes with more medication and you have to be careful to take the right ones in the right quantity. Only take what your doctor and dietician recommend.
- Engage in hobbies – Being old does not mean you can’t enjoy the things you enjoy. It just means you may have to do it at a slower pace. So continue doing your hobbies to reap the benefits of mental and physical stimulation.
- Engage in healthy activity – Try to avoid any habits that are unhealthy such as smoking and drinking excessively because your body can no longer process things as it used to. Ensure that you don’t miss your scheduled checkups with the doctor as well.
Related article: How to Start Caring About Yourself.
2. How do you live alone in old age?
- Keep in contact – Try to keep talking to your friends, family, and neighbors to keep loneliness at bay. Several research has shown that this actually contributes to prolonged life.
- Prioritize your health – Go to doctor’s appointments, take the medication the doctor recommends, exercise, eat healthily and engage in your hobbies. Your physical, mental and emotional health are very important.
- Get a side job or volunteer – You are never too old to be doing something so you could get a job that you can keep up with or you could give back to society by volunteering.
- Organize your affairs – Keep your medical information up to date and readily accessible. Appoint both financial and medical powers of attorneys so that they can act in your stead if you can’t for whatever reason.
- Get a pet – Pets are awesome for preventing loneliness in people and so will be especially useful to you. Be careful not to get one that is too high maintenance though – unless you can keep up of course.
3. How do you prepare for old age?
The following are very important to look out for when preparing for old age:
- Start your preparation early enough
- Appoint medical and financial powers of attorney to people you absolutely trust
- Plan your estate with the help of lawyers and financial planners
- Make a will and a living will
- Remain sociable
- Consider moving to a place that would ensure services are more accessible
Again, when it comes to how to prepare for old age alone, it is best not to think about why you are growing old alone. It has happened and trust us, people with partners have their own problems as well. Best you can do is make the best of your situation, enjoy your freedom and live your best life. You will be just fine.
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