Traditionally, people relied on their spouses and adult children to help them when they got older. However, many Americans today are widowed, divorced, or never married. Within this group, are people who never had children or whose children do not live near them or are not involved in their lives. For people who are childless singles, here are tips on how to plan your care in later years without a spouse or children.
How Your Smart House Can Watch Over You
You can get home technology that will keep a better eye on you, than most humans would. Monitoring systems can check on you at regular intervals throughout the day and notify designated people if you do not respond within a predetermined amount of time. Other systems provide reminders of when you must take your medicine.
Gadgets Straight from the Jetsons
Forget vacuuming. Your only questions after you get a robot vacuum will be why you waited so long to get one, and what to name it. Yes, people attach that to these gizmos. Technology like the Amazon Alexa can answer your questions, help you remember something you forgot, buy things you want, and make sounds to pester your pets. Perhaps the device is at least as interactive as a spouse, who considers grunting to be a conversation.
A New World of Services
An entire industry has sprung up to provide services for people too busy to handle these tasks for themselves or for people who could use a little help around the house, such as aging adults. You can access many services right on your cell phone with an app. Some examples are:
- Get a ride to your weekly social activities, doctor’s appointments, hairdresser, grocery store, or house of worship (Uber, Lyft, and other ride-share services).
- “Grandkids for rent” services which allow college students to earn a little money by hanging out with older adults to visit, play a board game, go to the movies, or take a walk.
- On-demand handyman, housekeeping, home maintenance, and yard work companies.
Not Driving? No Problem!
Now you can get almost anything delivered right to your home. For example:
- Fresh meals. Gone are the days of pizza and Chinese food being your only food delivery options. You can now get anything from a sandwich to sushi to a five-course gourmet dinner delivered to your front door.
- Do you want to cook your own meals, but not have to go grocery shopping? Every other month, a new player emerges in the “home delivery of fresh ingredients for meals” market.
- Everything else, including the kitchen sink. Amazon, QVC, eBay and other giants make it fun and easy to shop without leaving your living room.
Create and Nurture Your Network of Friends
Experts agree that we should stay connected socially at all ages. When we retire, maintaining friendships, both in person and with social media groups, can keep us happy, healthy, and mentally sharp. A bonus of these relationships is that you can look out for each other.
How Can You Maintain Your Independence?
A trip to your local elder law attorney’s office can set you up with the legal documents that will protect the independent lifestyle you worked so hard to build. Three of the primary papers you need are:
- Durable financial power of attorney. You designate someone to handle your finances and your non-medical decisions, if you cannot do so.
- Durable medical power of attorney. The person you choose will take care of your medical choices, if you cannot do so for yourself.
- Medical records (HIPAA) authorization. This paper allows your healthcare providers to give the person you name access to your medical records to make informed decisions about your well-being.
Talk with an elder law attorney in your area about these and additional ways to protect yourself and your lifestyle. Every state has different laws, and this article discusses the general law.
The New York Times. “Single? No Kids? Don’t Fret: How to Plan Care in Your Later Years.” (accessed March 24, 2018) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/business/elder-orphans-care.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FElderly&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection