This past weekend, a headline in The New York Times caught my eye: “Single? No Kids? Don’t Fret: How to Plan Care in Your Later Years.”
I embrace the Old Maid Cat Lady life, having only a fur-kid. Said cat does not have opposable thumbs or any employable skills. In short, I’m on my own when I grow older.
But I’m not alone. By 2030, the number of women ages 80 to 84 without children will be 16 percent in 2030, compared with 12 percent in 2010, according to an AARP report. The same report shows that the number of potential caregivers per persons 80 and older will drop from 7 in 2010 to 4 by 2030.
Clearly, I need a plan.
I already do some of the things that the Times article suggests. I live in a walkable neighborhood, near a drug store, grocery and bus stop – for when I can no longer drive. I don’t yet qualify to live in a “congregate living” space such as senior housing, but I do live in a condo building where neighbors might notice something amiss.
I have also named a healthcare surrogate to make decisions should I become unable to do so. (If you’d like to know more about healthcare directives, ElderServe’s social services manager will give a free presentation at 2 p.m. April 16 at our Senior Center. Call 502.778.7418 for more information.)
But I have work to do. One of the most intriguing ideas in the article came from an eldercare lawyer in Texas, who suggested creating a “micro board” made up of a lawyer, a healthcare surrogate, a financial agent, an accountant and a geriatric care manager. The board could step in to make decisions if I cannot. I’d need to consult with an attorney to learn what Kentucky law allows and what arrangements to make.
I also wonder how technology will make it easier for we single folks to age in place safely, particularly those of us who have used computers and cell phones for decades. Already, I use the Round app to remind me to take medication. One app mentioned in the article, Eyeon App, lets you schedule electronic check-ins. If there is no response within 30 minutes of a scheduled check-in, the app then alerts three people of your choosing. From a safety perspective, it reminds me of the Glympse app that lets my family track my whereabouts when I’m on solo road trips. As with the “micro board” idea, the apps rely on building a network of friends and neighbors for support.
My biggest fear of growing older is one that I think many people have: losing control and independence. However, with some forethought and planning, I can have some say in how my golden years play out.
Now if I can only figure out how to build a retirement nest egg from viral cat videos…