Deep Aging and Solo Agers

What is “Deep Aging” and “Solo Agers” ?

Deep aging is generally understood to be the period of aging when most people are not very mobile and need some assistance with their activities.  It occurs at different ages for different people, but for those who live into their 90s and 100s, it is experienced somewhere in those decades of life.  Since more and more of us can expect to see those years it is important, especially for those aging alone, solo agers, to do some planning for that time.

Six Key Planning Targets for Solo Baby Boomers’ Deep Aging

  • Emotional support
  • Residential decisions and transactions
  • Medication management
  • Investments and financial decisions
  • Legal representation
  • Money handling and bill paying

As a Financial Concierge™, We are focused on the last three.

  1. Money Management

Adam took over his eighty-nine-year-old mother’s finances after she had a debilitating stroke.  Even before the stroke she had started to talk about giving up her driver’s license and was asking Adam to help her with household tasks on a more frequent basis.  When the stroke occurred, she became unable to speak or write for four months.  Adam recalls that having her enduring power-of-attorney “EPA” was a lifesaver.  The EPA allowed him to get his name added to all her accounts, manage her income, pay her bills, file her taxes, and wade through the mountain of bills and statements that arrived daily.  He was also able to arrange for her in-home care and to offset out-of-pocket expenses that occurred in the first few days of her hospitalization for himself and his other siblings.  After his mother recovered most of her mobility and some of her speech, Adam continued to manage her finances, and his mother expressed relief and gratitude that she had someone to take over for her.

How would a solo ager manage in these circumstances?  Would there be another relative or friend to rush in, make decisions, pay the bills and manage the accounts?  Without an enduring power-of-attorney, this would have been difficult even for Adam as her son.  Solo agers need to select a trusted relative or friend in advance to be ready to take on these kinds of responsibilities in the case of temporary or long-term incapacity.

  1. Investments and financial Decisions

As time goes on, some older adults begin to feel they are gradually losing touch with the ever-changing realities of the outside world.  Will that happen to you?  No one knows. At eighty-five or ninety, a person’s mental faculties are often not all they once were.  At that point, a capable and trustworthy relative, friend, or fiduciary can take over some or all of the financial decisions—maybe handling the investments and doing the income tax calculations—if the solo ager has had the foresight to plan ahead.

  1. Legal Representation

When you make an estate plan––one that includes a long-term care plan––it should include a enduring power-of-attorney (EPA) for financial matters and a personal directive for health care decisions.  An EPA allows the person you name to have legal proxy for all decisions in the financial domain, meaning their signature is treated as your own.

Solo agers often stumble in this area. What relative or friend should be selected?  Sometimes the best choice is a professional, an outsider. T his is not only a reasonable choice for solo agers; it is often the choice of older adults who are parents.  Almost all parents love their children but they don’t always trust them to do the right thing during a crisis.

This kind of planning requires good communication with the relative or friend the solo ager wants to name.  Sometimes the one selected is not interested in taking on that kind of responsibility.  In that case it is often in the solo ager’s best interest to engage a licensed professional fiduciarydaily money manager, or private guardian to entrust with a power-of-attorney and specific instructions.

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