Health & Well-Being

Aging Alone?

Here's how to plan

Who will take care of me when I’m old?

This unsettling question is on the minds of millions of people who have never married, are separated, divorced, or widowed. With people living longer than ever, if we live long enough, all of us can expect to age solo.

In recent years, the definition of solo aging has evolved to include a parent with adult children. The reason behind this is the harsh reality that sons and daughters are unavailable or unwilling to take on family caregiving responsibilities. A recent AARP article said that there are many reasons why adult children opt out of parent care, including some who are too busy or are not well enough to care for an aging parent. [1]

The challenges of solo aging are many, but careful planning will lessen them. My recent book, “The Complete Eldercare Planner, 4th edition,” offers specific action steps to start the process of planning immediately. These include the following:

Ask the right questions about aging in place.

Most people declare they want to remain in their homes for as long as possible. To make this more likely for home dwellers who are aging solo, it is wise to ask themselves these questions up front: 

Am I prepared to be an employer? Am I up to the task of hiring and firing paid care workers? What personal safety precautions are in place for me to allow strangers into my home? 

Will the money well run dry? What are the going rates for home-delivery services, housecleaning, or yard work? Is the house in need of repair?

Is forgetfulness a problem? Not remembering to take medications or turn off the stove can have serious consequences. 

Decide who will help with long-term care.

Our nation’s in-home care worker industry is broken. Minimum wages, unpredictable work schedules, exhausting work, and lack of recognition as essential workers to qualify for employee benefits keep job seekers away from the industry.

There is no indication that the number of in-home care workers will increase anytime soon, so now is the time to take matters into your own hands. 

If moving into a continuing care retirement community is how you plan to be cared for, visit one now. With the aging of millions of baby boomers coupled with the in-home care worker shortage, few people realize that most of these communities now have long and growing wait lists. 

Another approach to getting assistance is creating a support network of friends, volunteers, and professionals. Ask the following questions:

  • Are my close friends ready, willing, and able to be there for me?
  • Am I a member of any social clubs or business organizations that offer long-term care benefits?
  • Does my place of worship offer support services?
  • Am I eligible for eldercare or retirement benefits through an employer?

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Plan to avert isolation and loneliness.

One of the most significant challenges of living alone is overcoming isolation and loneliness. Although living alone doesn’t inevitably lead to loneliness, the two often go hand-in-hand. 

Look for local resources that provide a thriving community of peers and younger generations to socialize. 

This is especially important in instances where individuals have experienced the loss of a spouse or partner. 

Widowhood is heartbreaking, and without a solid emotional support system, the heartache can compound itself. 

Consider visiting your local 55+ recreation center or, if you are in the Dallas area, the life enrichment hub on the CC Young Senior Living Community Campus. The Point is open to residents and the public age 55-plus who are interested in participating in various activities, including lectures, computer training, fitness and nutrition classes, art, music, and more. 

There is no need to be alone and lonely. You need to know where to look to surround yourself with people who want to get to know you.

 [1] When Being a Family Caregiver Is No Longer an Option, By Barry J. Jacobs, AARP,; Published March 05, 2019, 


Joy Loverde

Joy Loverde is a keynote speaker, consultant, and author of the best-selling books, “The Complete Eldercare Planner, 4th Edition,” and “Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?” She has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Time, Money, The New York Times, and Psychology Today, among many others. Interviews include the Today show, Good Morning America, and NPR. Critics hail her work as “illuminating, eye-opening, and required reading for everyone over 40.” Visit her website at

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