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May 2024

4 Questions to Ask Yourself as You Age

While medical advancements have made aging easier for some, changes in society may make it more difficult for others. There is an increasing number of older Americans who don’t have a family member or caretaker looking after their needs. This growing group is called elder orphans.

More adults may not have children to help them as they age. That’s partly because childhood obesity rates began to climb in the 1970s. As a result, more middle-aged adults may face conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. So the current generation may be the first to have parents routinely outlive their children.

While no one wants to think about going it alone as they age, you should be ready in case you find yourself in that situation. Consider these 4 questions to make sure you’ve planned for the future:


Am I financially prepared? Start saving now for things like medical expenses, home repair, and housework. When you’re on your own, some tasks can be more expensive since you may need to hire help. You can find information online about how to do so. You may also want to meet with a financial adviser to discuss long-term care insurance. This can help you pay for nursing home care, medical equipment, assisted living, and home care depending on the plan.

Are my wishes known? Advance directives, such as durable power of attorney for healthcare or a living will, make sure that your wishes related to your health are known to others. A durable power of attorney for healthcare lets you name a person who will make your healthcare decisions if you’re not able to. A living will lets you state your preferences for treatment if you can no longer make decisions. You can find advance directive forms specific to your state online, through your local Area Agency on Aging, or with the help of a lawyer.

Who will be my support system? Being an elder orphan doesn’t mean you have to be alone. Surround yourself with people you can rely on to help and support you, like neighbors, friends, and relatives. Before you plan to retire in a new area, think about your support system. Making new friends will take time and effort if you move. You can meet people by joining a club, taking a class, or volunteering.

Where do I want to live long-term? You may want to stay in your home, but can you live there alone for the extended future? Think about factors like whether you want to walk or drive to get around, your proximity to healthcare facilities and providers, and if you’d like to be somewhere that offers social opportunities.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals, MPH, BSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2022
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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