The Challenges of Living Alone as an Older American

Data presented in a recent CNN article shows that the number of older Americans living alone has reached a record high. While it is not uncommon for seniors to live alone, either because they lost their spouse or for other reasons, it is important to note solitary seniors face a unique set of challenges. If you are a senior who lives alone, or you have a senior loved one who does, there are a number of considerations that will need to be made regarding estate planning and end-of-life planning. Read on to find out more about the challenges faced by seniors who live alone, and how an elder law attorney can help you plan for those challenges.

Living Alone Over the Age of 50

While there is nothing wrong with seniors living alone, research has shown solitary living takes a physical and mental toll. A study by the National Institute on Aging showed social isolation and loneliness can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Isolation was also shown to weaken the immune system and shorten life spans. These risks were likened to the same that would be experienced from tobacco use. Living alone can also mean if you experience a medical emergency, like a fall, it will be more difficult for you to summon help.

How to Plan for Living Alone as a Senior

Seniors with adult children have a built-in support network, even if they don’t live in the same house. Speaking to an elder law attorney together, as a family, is a great way to create a plan for the future. This can include planning for financial concerns, like writing a will or establishing a trust. It can also include legal and medical concerns like designating powers of attorney, creating guardianship arrangements, or writing a living will. 

Writing a will provides a legal basis for your possessions to be distributed after you pass away, and establishing a trust can help your family avoid unnecessary taxation on certain financial assets. Establishing powers of attorney, medical and financial, will allow a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf.  A living will clearly state your preferences regarding end-of-life treatments in the event of your incapacitation.

Of course, not every senior has children, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from elder law planning. The same New York Times article indicated about one in six Americans over 55 do not have children. In this case, powers of attorney, and living wills are perhaps even more crucial. Appointing a person to make decisions on your behalf, even if they are not a member of your family, can help you avoid the worst consequences that can arise from your mental or physical incapacitation and ensure your end-of-life wishes will be followed even without a family member around to advocate on your behalf.

Elder Law Attorney in Montgomery County, PA

If you are a senior who lives alone, or you have a senior in your family who is living alone, it’s never too late to start planning for a stable future. An attorney who specializes in elder law can help you draw up important documents like wills, powers of attorney, and more. As one of the first attorneys in Pennsylvania to dedicate his practice to elder law concerns, Robert Slutsky is the best choice to assist you in your planning. Call (610) 940-0650 today or visit our contact page to inquire about setting up a consultation with an elder law attorney in Montgomery County, PA, and surrounding counties.

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