Singles need to be more proactive about planning for long-term care and estate planning to protect themselves against some of the inevitable issues of aging.
Not having a built-in support system of a spouse, children, in-laws, etc., can lead to challenges for singles as they age. About 35.4 million Americans lived alone in 2016, making up almost a third of all households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and about 20 million of them are 65 or older. For these aging singles, planning is key to being prepared for financial security and health issues, as reported by CNBC in “For aging singles, here's how to plan for your golden years,”
Saving as much as possible in a 401(k) plan or IRA while you can is important. You should also make certain that 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.
Here's a critical point: if you have a medical emergency and you live alone, you could be at risk. There are many different ways to solve this problem, among them, a medical alert system or a tag team of peers who check on each other daily.
Reference: CNBC (July 2, 2018) “For aging singles, here's how to plan for your golden years”