Solo Agers: Safeguard Your Future

By Carol Marak

Caring for my parents was a wake-up call. It required a massive effort involving three siblings and professionals. The same care could someday be needed for me–only I would not have a family to step up. I’m a solo ager, also known as an Elder Orphan. Whether by choice or circumstance, solo agers are individuals who don’t have a life partner or children. According to the U.S. Census, there are 15 million of us over the age of 65. 

Confronting “Who will look out for me when I’m old” compelled me to learn everything I could about self-care and aging well. I logically thought through the hurdles of aging alone to make better choices and take responsibility for my future. I created a framework for aging well today and into the future and am sharing it with others. 

Ten Focus Areas

There are ten focus areas in my framework that you can assess. Rate your satisfaction with each of these from 1-10 as they exist in your life today (1-extremely dissatisfied to 10-extremely satisfied). 

Focus areaHow satisfied are you with:Your rating (1-10)
Health / FitnessUnderstanding your family health history, managing your health, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and exercise?
Housing / LocationThe place you live? Is it close to family, friends, healthcare, and airports? Is it affordable and in your ideal climate?
Family / Friends / ConnectionsYour social life with connections to friends, family, and community?
Community SupportYour support network where you help others, and others help you?
Life PurposeYour life purpose and finding meaning in life?
Faith / Spirituality Your faith and spirituality? 
Transportation / MobilityYour ability to get around by walking, driving, or taking public transportation? 
FinancesYour savings, budgeting, and ability to live within your means?
Legal MattersYour legal and financial affairs and how they are organized, documented, and shared with your proxies? 
Fun / EngagementYour quality of living a fun, joyous, and engaged life? 

Take action

Now, pick one thing to improve–ideally one of the areas with which you are most dissatisfied.  What does it look like?  What’s your prediction if nothing changes? What are the variables that influence your success? Describe what you want it to look like in six months and in one year? List the action steps you’re willing to commit to in order to have it. 

When addressing this action plan, approach it by: 

Creating a Possibilities Mindset

People are trained to focus on problems when making decisions. But ultimately planners need to see possibilities. Start by asking, “What’s the possibility that I see in this situation?” Visualize what you want. Remaining vigorous and healthy requires intention with health as the most prized possession.

Leaning into your strengths

Having the self awareness of where you are strong and where you have areas of development will help your action plan. Lean into your strengths and find support for your weaknesses. 

Your Strengths

– What do I do well?
– What’s unique about me?
– Where do I excel? 

Examples: Resourceful, adaptable, manage money well, self-directed, resilient
Your Weaknesses

– What areas in life are underperforming and why?
– What could improve?
– What resources are needed?

Examples: Low quality of life, unsatisfying friendships, poor budgeter

Identifying what you don’t want

Instead of thinking about what will make you happy, think about what makes you unhappy, and how you can create a life that avoids as many of those dissatisfactions as possible. 

Build your support team 

As you are taking action, know there are myriad of people with whom you interact who can be a part of your support team, including 

  • Healthcare professionals: Concierge doctors, Primary care physicians, Pharmacists
  • Health advocates: Aging Life Care professionals, Geriatric Care Managers, Patient Advocates
  • Diet / Fitness professionals: Physical Therapists, Personal Trainers, Dietitians
  • Business professionals: Financial Planners, Estate Attorneys, Tax Accountants
  • Community support: Support groups, neighbors, friends, community organizations, social media groups (ie: Elder Orphan Facebook Group)

With this information, I wish you a supportive and secure future.


Carol Marak is an author and Solo Living Coach. She wrote SOLO AND SMART, a Roadmap for a Supportive and Secure Future, and created the Elder Orphan Facebook Group.


Throughout this “Going It Alone” section of this blog, we will share learnings from others navigating retirement alone, so that you don’t have to do it all alone.

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