Studies indicate that people over the age of 65 years will need some form of long-term care help, especially the ones without family. The 2010 U.S. Census reports close to 27 percent of the senior population live at home alone. The University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study estimates 22 percent of the segment live geographically distant from family or friends.
Living without household support at home, who can solo agers count on for help? It’s a common concern in the Elder Orphan Facebook group. Each week a person asks, “I have surgery in a few of weeks and can’t find transportation to the hospital or back home, and the doctor won’t let me take Uber or a cab. What do I do?”
Most Americans have children and many can count on one for support. But just because one has an adult child doesn’t mean they want to be a burden. Today, there are 43 million family members providing elder care help. Since adult children are the first responders for parents, who will care for those without one?
For those who wonder about their future senior care needs and who will help with activities of daily living, here’s what you need to know and the steps to take to prepare.
1. Medicare does not pay for long-term custodial care services. The health insurance program only pays for the acute medical care, doctor visits, drugs, and a hospital stays.
2. Medicaid helps individuals living with low income and assets, and it pays for some of the health care expenses. The program works under stringent regulations on who are eligible.
3. Paying for long-term care is out-of-pocket unless you have a long-term care insurance policy, and pays for long-term supports and services.
4. Private health insurance policies may cover some types of long-term care.
5. Disability insurance replaces income and does not include long-term care services and supports.
Here are a few steps to take that will help you stay safe and independent for as long as possible.
Have your legal documents in place. You’ll need a will, a living will, a healthcare proxy and a power of attorney.
Share your home with like-minded and set up a built in “share the care” strategy. If you take this step, be sure to put in place the legal documents or contract stating each person’s responsibilities. This will hold each person accountable.
Live close (walking distance) from public transportation.
Find a person/friend you can rely on for support and care and exchange services.
Hire a chronic care advocate if you live with a prolonged medical condition.
Eat fresh, healthy foods.
Keep your brain sharp by getting involved.
Volunteer and help those in need.
Take up hobbies that you enjoy and inspire you.
If you’re a solo ager, what ideas and strategies have you done to prepare for the future personal needs?
Carol Marak, aging advocate, and editor at Seniorcare.com. She’s earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.
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