For seniors who are single and childless, a lack of a default support system creates additional issues as they age. CNBC’s recent article, “For aging singles, here's how to plan for your golden years,” says that roughly 35.4 million Americans lived alone in 2016, comprising 28.1% of all U.S. households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The number of those age 65 or older is about 19.5 million people. There are aspects of retirement that older singles should prepare for, beyond saving.
Saving as much as possible in a 401(k) plan or IRA while you can are important. So is making certain you have emergency savings, if you're still working. If you’re still employed, find out if your company offers group insurance for long-term disability. Those policies provide a portion of your income, in case you end up unable to work due to an accident or other medical condition.
There are other ways for singles to protect themselves, as they age.
In addition to an estate plan with a will, select someone to handle your finances, if you reach a point where you can’t. When you give someone durable power of attorney for your finances, he or she will be responsible for paying your bills with your money. It is, therefore, important to choose someone you trust. You should also grant someone durable power of attorney for health care. That lets the individual make important health-care decisions, if you can’t. That is different from a living will. That document states your wishes, if you’re on life support or suffer from a terminal condition. This helps instruct your proxy’s decision-making. If you have no one named, your healthcare providers must follow your wishes in that document.
If you’re single and don’t have family close by who can assist, if you need help with daily living activities, you'll need to plan for how to pay for it. A person turning age 65 today has nearly a 70% chance of needing such long-term care in their remaining years, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. On average, women need care longer (3.7 years) than men (2.2 years).
You also need to understand that Medicare (which you generally sign up for when you’re 65) doesn’t pay for long-term care. It can be expensive. If you have no family to rely on, and you don’t want to spend down your assets, but you’re above the income threshold to qualify for Medicaid, long-term care insurance can be an option. LTC insurance will pay a daily amount, up to a predetermined dollar limit and length of time, for services. Policies can be expensive, costing up to $2,000 a year for younger applicants (in their 50s) and double that for those over age 65. As with all age and health related insurance, the younger you are when you look into it, the better.
If you’re single and living alone, you won’t have someone to notice if you happen to fall or have another type of medical emergency and can’t get help. You should ask friends to check on you or work part-time or volunteer to stay involved. That way, people expect you to show up at a certain place at a certain time.
Reference: CNBC (July 2, 2018) “For aging singles, here's how to plan for your golden years”