Are you a “solo ager“? This is the new term being passed around to describe baby boomers who do not have children. This strong and self-reliant genre faces a number of unique issues in aging, chiefly who to designate as guardian and decision-maker in case they become unable to do so themselves. In her book, Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers, author Sara Zeff Geber, Ph.D. outlines several options to consider:
- Dig through your support system. Typically, a solo ager’s spouse would be the natural option for guardianship and also to make critical decisions associated with health care, but it’s important to have a minimum of one and preferably two younger alternative options. Consider siblings and their children, close friends, and neighbors, taking into consideration whether or not each person holds matching values and is also someone you can fully trust to make decisions in accordance with your wishes.
- Hire a qualified professional guardian. Professional guardians, also referred to as private guardians or professional fiduciaries, have become more popular than ever for solo agers. If thinking about this option, it is vital that you interview several candidates to ensure they will have the required knowledge and experience, and don’t forget to inquire about references. Consult your attorney for recommendations, or perhaps the National Guardianship Association or Professional Fiduciary Association in your state.
- Accept a court-appointed guardian. If a solo ager has not yet selected a guardian and is suddenly not able to make care-related and/or financial decisions, a probate court will designate a guardian to handle his or her affairs.
When you are checking out potential guardians, gather answers to questions such as:
- How long have you been in practice?
- Have you been certified by the National Guardian Association?
- Have you been bonded and insured?
- What will be the succession plan if you predecease me?
- Are background checks performed on all of your employees?
- What is your understanding of the particular medical conditions I’m facing?
- Exactly what are your fees, and how often will I be billed?
After your guardian option has been determined, ensure that your attorney updates your existing (or creates a brand new) durable power of attorney or advance medical care directive, will, and durable power of attorney for finances.
If you require any more help and support in planning for long-term care needs, contact the St. Petersburg, FL home care professionals at Generations at Home. We’re able to partner with seniors to generate a plan of care to make sure that needs are fully met now and will keep on being met effectively as needs change in the years in the future, always with respect to each individual’s wishes. Call us at 727-940-3414 or contact us online to learn more.