Elderwerks President Jennifer Prell explains that kinless seniors need to have their personal health and legal directives in place as they live their lives. Professional services can help in planning.

“They think that since they have no family, they don’t care what happens to their estate. What they don’t realize is that it’s not just about the house, the money, and other items; it’s about what to do should you not be able to make health decisions for yourself.”

Aging alone without family or spouses/partners is a growing trend in this country.

These mature adults are known by the term “kinless seniors.” According to a recent New York Times article, “there are nearly a million Americans over the age of 55 living without a spouse or a partner, any children or siblings.” The article gives other statistics such as that the rate of this group of seniors is “projected to grow as generations younger than boomers are even likelier to be aging alone.”

The troubling concern is when there is no family to help with a kinless senior’s health, legal, and end-of-life decisions, who will make these choices? Planning for the future is key, and resources such as the Palatine, Illinois-based nonprofit Elderwerks can help kinless seniors in a proactive and positive way to connect with agencies and organizations who have the right experts to assist them. Elderwerks President Jennifer Prell hears from these older adults, and one of their worries is installing a healthcare and financial power of attorney to honor their wishes.

“Yes, some people do plan for their futures. However, when people are kinless, they don’t think about the consequences of the lack of planning,” she explained. “They think that since they have no family, they don’t care what happens to their estate. What they don’t realize is that it’s not just about the house, the money and other items; it’s about what to do should you not be able to make health decisions for yourself. What kind of care do you want? Where do you want to live? You do not want the state to direct a public guardian to make healthcare decisions for you as the choices they make may not be what you want. We also recommend discussing your current health and future possibilities with your primary care physician.”

With these questions in mind, Prell encourages kinless seniors to consider these kinds of professional services in their planning:

Home service agencies assist with bathing, dressing, medication reminders, meals, errands, transportation, and companionship.
Private trustees manage a person’s assets, health directives, and act as their Power of Attorney to ensure all wishes and needs are met.
Trust officers in banks oversee high-net worth people with their finances and daily support.
Elder law attorneys can act as guardians for the person and set up all legal paperwork to ensure that the health and financial aspects of aging are done legally.
Geriatric care managers assist with all aspects of a person’s life regarding activities of daily living, transportation to appointments, documenting doctor’s orders, and full management of the person.
Money managers will help manage the money, pay bills, taxes, and account for spending.

Other supports such as close friends and religious communities can be helpful when dealing with social issues such as loneliness and developing a strong faith. The more important concerns should be left to the professionals.

“Relying on friends and professionals will help you with your psyche and your happiness,” Prell said. “You might want to put professional services in place for the other things your friends can’t do such as home care services, a legacy list, handymen, maid services, and nutritional and transportation services. Having friends in charge of such duties is a lot of responsibility and stress on them. You want to make sure that they are able to help you with your needs, but not overburden or stress them out.”

“Remember, you are only alone if you want to be. It is important to plan now for future needs, accessible housing, and your safety net. Once those plans are in place, you can enjoy your life.”

About Elderwerks:
Based in Palatine, Elderwerks, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization, has helped thousands of older adults and seniors age well. Elderwerks offers complimentary, information, referrals, and guidance for all types of senior living, home care, support services, and benefits based on your or your loved one’s needs. Acting as “senior guidance advisors,” we help find the right solutions for you or your loved one. Whether it’s assisted living, memory care, a referral for an elder law attorney, veterans benefit specialist, or transition to any other type of senior care, Elderwerks simplifies the process of navigating senior living options and supportive services. We can offer you support in a very short period of time. Don’t let the future overwhelm you, call Elderwerks first: 855-462-0100. For more information, visit Elderwerks’ website. ###