<![CDATA[Carol Marak - Blog]]>Tue, 25 Jan 2022 18:23:03 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Sunday Blues and Living Alone]]>Tue, 31 Aug 2021 18:03:29 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/sunday-blues-and-living-alone
Can you relate to the Sunday blues? 

Living alone can bring up a host of fluctuating feelings and conditions: euphoria, responsibility, burden, blame, guilt, sorrow, dependability, depression, and a new one, "the scaries." These terms refer to the feelings most adults have at the end of the week, often on the day of rest, Sunday.

The term Sunday blues have changed from the common labels such as the ones above to a more contemporary expression, one that has gained media attention and is trending on Google, the scaries.  No matter what you call it, the dreaded, high-grade uneasiness is very real to many. 

The reasons are as diverse as the people who experience the Sunday blues. Students may feel a sense of anxiety if the homework is incomplete, working adults may feel "stuck in their job," or have to face a difficult boss the next day, and solo adults, may feel lonely and sad for that reason alone... they're single.   

A 2018 survey requested by LinkedIn found that 80 percent of working American adults worry about the upcoming workweek on Sundays. 

Especially after the best of weekends, there’s a cloud that descends. Chances are, you’ve felt it. Single adults do. Like the LinkedIn survey, 80 percent of American respondents said they get Sunday-night blues—and 59 percent said they experience them “really bad.” For some, the laid-back, relaxed weekend feelings morph into uptight “weekday people.” They get worked up about the drudgery of to-do lists and tasks at work. 

Sunday Blues are Different for Solos

But for the solitary, living day in and day out with oneself, the scaries are instigated by the anxiety of facing a full day of chilling out...yet again, on their own.  

No other day of the week is like a Sunday. In my younger days, it was the day from hell.  I'll always remember that sad, gloomy cloud heading my way around noon. It brought with it a low-grade, buzz-killing anxiety. 

​Many solos are the loneliest on Sundays. Last week, a colleague, who has been single most of her life, called about a work project but the conversation turned to "melancholy Sundays." I wasn't surprised to hear her stories about the sadness she feels on that day, even at 55, she exclaimed! I let her know, there's hope. That dreaded Sunday feeling will one day change, maybe next year, but I promised, it will get better and the Sunday blues will cease its visits. Today, at 70, the dark clouds rarely pay visits.

I often wondered why that day brought so much distress. I believe now it's because I miss my family. Sunday's were so special because my dad was home all day. We'd make it a very special family affair: go to church, eat fried chicken, take short drives to the country, and visit with aunts and uncles.  And if you had good times like that growing up, it's no wonder that Sundays can fill us with a huge void.

Takeaways from the Single Life 

Hang on! There are a lot of takeaways from being single. My top tip is love yourself and be very patient with yourself. Find hope and consolation in these prizes that living solo offers:

You may have heard this before, but the only way you can truly love anyone else is if you love yourself first.

Find ways to lift your spirit—you'll come out on the other side much more creative. what sort of things get you excited? In other words, if you had a free afternoon to do what you enjoy, what would it be? 

Stop wishing for what could have been. It is so easy to think about the past, especially the good stuff. The good memories take up more head space than the bad, but I think human beings have a tendency to romanticize the not so good stuff. 

Living the single life, you get plenty of time to figure out what you want! When you do, you have the freedom to go for it!

Get out there and become the best you can be! Gain strength in knowing YOU have done so much all on your own.  

<![CDATA[Here's what to know about long-term care planning]]>Sat, 26 Jun 2021 14:49:19 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/heres-what-to-know-about-long-term-care-planning
The article, What Are the Odds Your Client Will Need Long-Term Care at ThinkAdvisor.com, highlights data from HealthView Services, a producer of healthcare cost-projection software for financial advisors.

The projection for healthy 65-year-old couples living to their projected actuarial longevity has a 75% chance that one partner will require a significant level of long-term care. The care needed will be required at assisted living, skilled care nursing, and even skilled home care. 

The data reflects the results of another study published at INQUIRY in November 2005 where the analysis projected that people currently turning 65 will need LTC for three years on average. The needed care will be covered by public programs and some private insurance, but much of the care will be an uninsured private responsibility of individuals and their families.

The study at INQUIRY suggests that a third of those now turning 65 are projected to never receive family care, and a third will rely on family care for more than two years. And half of people turning 65 will have no private out-of-pocket expenditures for LTC, while more than one in 20 are projected to spend $100,000 or more of their own money.  

What People Need to Know
  • For an average healthy 65-year-old couple, there's a 75% chance that one partner will require LTC, according to HealthView Services.
  • Chronic conditions reduce the likelihood of needing care but increase the average duration for those who need it.
  • An average 50-year-old couple can expect to pay significantly more for long-term care.

HealthView Services drew on the firm’s actuarial data to highlight the projected LTC costs, the probability that care will be required and duration of care, and the significant effect of age, gender, health condition and location on these expenses. 

There’s a growing trend that people are more aware of long-term care and the likely need for it in the years ahead but even today, most stick their neck out when it comes to these expenses by sweeping the issue away. 

Family Caregiving Exposure

Coming from family caregiving and working in the senior care sector, I know the significance of planning for personal care needs and their expenses long before one requires help.

My work revolves around the aging solo cohort who in many cases have no spouse, children or family members to count on for some kind of support. Unfortunately, most adults don’t prepare and find themselves in a frenzy looking for help because they’ve fallen into an emergency situation. And that’s the worst time to seek out resources because the stress is too overwhelming.  I offer tools and simple worksheets that help you plan

Not a week goes by without receiving three or four frantic messages from people in a crisis situation. They’re fearful and begging for help. I do my best to direct them, but where they land usually isn’t in the best of situations. 

What Adults Living Solo Need

What sets those aging well apart from those who are not is having a plan—those with one age better because they’re prepared to manage the surprises. More importantly, they’ve done the research and have learned the action steps required to prepare for any situation.

As a whole, society is reactive, especially when dealing with life events like medical emergencies, or if one needs care at home, or the body develops a chronic condition.  No one wakes up thinking, “Today I’m going to put a plan together just in case I need it.” People do need one, they just don’t know where to start.

So, I’ve created useful tools and processes that assist individuals when thinking about their future. It’s the one I developed for myself years ago after my parents died, and now I teach others to do it for themselves. The Aging Well circle is a tool that launched my own future plan. The circle came about after observing my parents in later years. The tool gave me and now it gives others the chance to assess life’s domains and the opportunity to witness where they fall short and where they excel.

Once individuals have a solid handle on their strengths and weaknesses of the top concerns of aging, they can proceed to take action.  The top concerns address health, home, location, social connections and engagement, nearby support, transportation, legal and financial matters, and exercise.

​The objective is to assess your life and needs, know your requirements and preferences, find solutions that appeal to your preferences. This is an abridged version of the Aging Well Circle however, it’s a great place to start and it will set your life on the right trajectory of aging well. Here’s what to know about long-term care planning.

Join me at AMAVA where I guide people to plan for the years ahead.

Feel free to send me an email for more information.
<![CDATA[Empowering Techniques for Solo Adults]]>Sun, 23 May 2021 18:01:38 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/empowering-techniques-for-solo-adults Picture

Much of society believes American households consist of a nuclear family: A man, a woman, and two children.  Remarkably, the U.S. Census Bureau tells us otherwise — American households consist primarily of solo adults.

Accordingly, 35.7 million Americans live alone. That's 28 percent of household, an increase from 13 percent of households in 1960 and 23 percent in 1980. Demographers say delayed or foregone marriage, longer life expectancy, urbanization, and wealth have contributed to the trend. 

Solo living was never a relevant topic to me until my parents passed away. Taking care of them took a bulk of my sisters’ and my time and if you ever cared for an older relative, you can relate. Caregiving is chock full of challenges, heartache, and stress—my wake up call. It illustrated the potential struggles that most adults will encounter.

That’s when I got on the stick to create a healthy, connected, and supportive lifestyle. Otherwise, my own aging circumstance would derail quickly since I have no spouse, partner, or adult children to rely on.  

If it’s your first time to live alone or you’re a pro, here are a few strategies to smooth the rough spots.  

Tips to get along when living alone

Read the full article, Empowering Techniques for Solo Agers. 

Looking for support when aging alone?  Check out my Solo Aging Master Group Coaching.

Want to know what the Solo Aging Master Group Coaching is all about? Learn more here.  

<![CDATA[What are the Coaching Outcomes for Members?]]>Fri, 14 May 2021 15:49:53 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/what-are-the-coaching-outcomes-for-members
​Group Coaching Learning Outcomes 

When I was first alerted to the possibility of aging alone, I worried how I would resolve all the issues my parents had trouble with. I knew I couldn't pick up the phone and call a daughter or son to help out, or run an errand, or bring me food. That was not in the cards. However, I had gained a sense about the aging-related issues when helping the older relatives.  The act positioned me to evaluate and rate my own aging course and progression. 

So, I did the next best thing, I set out to become an independent senior, one who has created an empowering lifestyle. I needed to become extremely self reliant, healthy, socially engage, resourceful, have plenty of money, and be surrounded by peers and neighbors who cared about my well being and safety.

More specifically, I learned about the life's domains and aspects of aging well. The first step was to evaluate my circumstances and contributing factors. Once measured and once I learned the level of satisfaction of each, it gave me a bases, a foundation and motive of the things I needed to improve or find resolve. It showed me where my life excelled and where it fell short. 

Self Appraisal

The first most intimidating domain was finances and money. My savings and retirement funds were frightfully bare. At 55, I had minimal financial resources. I could have made excuses and continued to ignore the red flag. But being a single senior, paying bills and expenses all fell on me. No one would step up to pay them. And they shouldn't since it was my problem and responsibility. So, that's where I started. I worked harder, concentrated on making more money, and saved, saved, saved. 

The second factor was my health. But I knew if it failed, no money in the world could fix it. That was the following domain to concentrate on. The contributing factors for aging well. You’ll learn them, how to assess them as they relate to your life, and then, what to do about them to ensure an independent and safe future.  

The Ten Domains of Aging

The group members will address the ten domain factors that contribute to wellness: health and fitness, home and where it’s located, friends and connections, activities for engagement, self-growth, spiritual contentment, having support, finding purpose, money to sustain, and to be mobile. Let me ask you, when reading these:
  • How do you feel about each of them?
  • Do you feel confident or apprehensive?
  • Do any of them cause worry? 
  • How do each measure in satisfaction?
  • Have you ever rated them?
  • What questions do you ask to assess each one?
  • Do you have concerns that your satisfaction falls short on them?
  • Do you want to know or would you prefer not knowing?
  • Do you want to feel more confident and hope for change?

If you were given a process that guides you through a self-appraising strategy, would you do the work and learn as much as possible? 

When answering the questions honestly, do you want something to change? do you want better health? More friends, to find purpose, or have more money? Are you at a point in your life right now to commit to the journey of change for a better life in one, two, five or even ten years from now? 

Empowered Aging 

A single person's biggest concerns when living alone without the help of nearby family can be mitigated and remedied. I truly believe it. Why? Because my life and this process worked well for me. And it has for others as well. One private coaching client writes, 

"Carol, just to let you know, my husband passed yesterday so, I am officially aging alone. Thank you for getting me prepared for this time of life. We need to let people know how much preparing for aging alone has helped me feel more confident about the coming years." 

Members will learn to prioritize their concerns and how to set the trajectory for living a more confident, fulfilling, and secure tomorrow.

The solo lifestyle group coaching will guide you through a roadmap that personalizes a plan just for you. It inspires action with relevant content and simple action steps you can make every day that ensures a healthy, socially connected, supportive, affordable, and purposeful lifestyle.

Join us! 
<![CDATA[What Will I Learn in the Group Coaching?]]>Tue, 27 Apr 2021 16:42:24 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/what-will-i-learn-in-the-group-coaching
Do you spend time wondering about the future years and how the aging concerns like independence and safety will play out for you? Even questions like will my money last and who will look out for me are big dilemmas if you haven't planned for them.

I’ve been in senior care since 2006, and it still surprises me that so much emphasis is put on finances when planning for retirement.  I’m not saying money isn’t important at every stage, but after helping my parents with their care and speaking with many older adults about the aging complexities, it would make more sense for people to take a wider-spread approach instead.   

Caregiving Offers Knowledge

Have you ever been a caregiver? What was it like for you? Did the role and its tasks convince you that taking a holistic approach to your own senior years would better serve you? It doesn’t matter if you’re living alone or not, the entire process of creating a secure and certain future is loaded with obstacles and setbacks. 
I believe each of us know what contributes to living well. Even though you may have a sense of what’s important, do you know how to assess where you are right now and what needs remedy, or at least your attention?

Do you know what aspects of aging requires evaluation? Once you learn what needs evaluating, do you know how to measure for satisfaction and confidence?

That’s what the group content is about: The contributing factors for aging well. You’ll learn them, how to assess them as they relate to your life, and then, what to do about them to ensure an independent and safe future.  

You have gained a sense about the aging-related issues by helping an older relative or spouse.  The act has positioned you to evaluate and rate your own years ahead.  

Assess Your Aging Domains

Life revolves around ten domain factors that contribute to wellness: health and fitness, home and where it’s located, friends and connections, activities for engagement, self-growth, spiritual contentment, having support, finding purpose, money to sustain, and to be mobile.

Which one(s) make you feel confident or apprehensive? Do you know how each measures in satisfaction and security? Have you ever considered rating the life's domains? What questions do you ask to assess each one? If you did assess them, do many fall short or are you poised well in all ten? Do you want to know or would you prefer not knowing? Do you want your life to change?

If you were given a process that guides you through a self-appraising strategy, would you do the work and learn as much as possible? 

Ask yourself.. Do I want something to change? Perhaps it’s having better health, more friends, finding a purpose, or having more money? Are you at a point to commit to making changes that will improve life in 1, 2, 5 years from now? 

If you are ready to find out more, then send me an email. Making that decision puts you halfway there. Just know nothing can change if you don’t identify how well you rate where you are right now and start to address them. The first step--understand what is not working and what is working well.

Once you self-appraise each area of the top aging issues, you’ll give it a value on the scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being a “difficulty or complete dilemma” and 10 is “wow, this feels good.”

When evaluating for confidence, be completely honest with yourself and give an accurate value that adequately represents your level of satisfaction with each aspect, the barriers that impede wellbeing and the things that you worry about most.

Gain Clarity about the Risks

Knowing the potential risks equips you with clarity, knowledge of what’s ahead, and to prepare. Once recognized you get an immediate sense of relief knowing what’s in store. It’s the 'not knowing' that heightens worry and stress. Remember, when in a state of tension and unease, the brain reverts to distractions and absent-mindedness which hinders the ability to organize thoughts for preparation.

Planning requires self-control, mental effort, and willpower. 

Single adults' biggest concerns when living alone without the help of nearby family can be mitigated and remedied. The tools you are given in the Solo Aging Master Group Coaching helps you prioritize the concerns and to set the trajectory for living a more confident, fulfilling, and secure tomorrow.

The solo lifestyle assessment guides you through a roadmap that personalizes a plan just for you. It inspires action with personally relevant content and simple action steps you can make every day that ensures a healthy, socially connected, supportive, affordable, and purposeful lifestyle.

Learn to Mitigate the Top Issues of Aging
  1. Having little to no support and engagement
  2. Declining health and fitness
  3. Running out of money
  4. Losing the ability to live at home
  5. Death of a spouse or other family member
  6. Inability to manage your own activities of daily living
  7. Immobility--inability to drive
  8. Isolation and loneliness
  9. Strangers caring for them
  10. Fear of losing independence
Do you have a plan for these top ten concerns?  If not, send an email to Carol@CarolMarak.com.   
<![CDATA[What is the Solo Aging Group Coaching About?]]>Tue, 20 Apr 2021 19:19:33 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/what-is-the-solo-aging-group-coaching-about

​What is the solo aging group coaching about?  What kind of topics and content does the group discuss?  These questions about the group coaching come across my email almost everyday.  Here's what the content is all about and the topics we talk about in a group setting.

Before I start, let me ask you a question.  "First look at the image above and answer, 
Which side of the aging perception wheel do you resonate with?"

What's your angle on aging?

Each person no matter the age or circumstance has personal perceptions about growing older and not many of them look forward to it because in most cases, aging  is looked upon as decline, isolating, depressing, complicated and uncertain. These negative notions about the older years are damaging to a person’s sense of self and physical health. Dreading the act of growing older can have enabling and constraining effects on the actions, performance, decisions, attitudes, and health of a person. These labels play a powerful role in shaping how we think about and interact with others, as well as how individuals within the stereotyped group see themselves.

That's a depressing way to look at the future.  People in general have a tendency to focus on the fears of  being lonely and alone, losing loved ones, losing the ability to do enjoyable things, losing the ability to drive and get around, having fear of dependence, feeling insecure, being isolated and left alone. But adopting positive aging perceptions can have the opposite effect on our attitudes and health behavior which can affect our attitudes to embrace personal empowerment principles. 

Where does your perception on aging land?

When thinking about the years ahead, do you feel discouraged or hopeful? Do you feel depressed or invigorated? Are you honest with yourself and willing to tell the truth about how you feel about the advanced years? If you lean to the left where the feelings and thoughts are bleak, perhaps reading stories of vibrant adults will shift that thinking. If you’re inspired and feel confident about the future and how well you’ve prepared, kudos to you.

Whether on the left or right, or somewhere in between, know that you’re exactly where you need to be. Either way, the future will come. However, if you want to grab on to hope and vibrancy for the later years, there are strategies to embrace and apply for a better future. 

The Solo Aging Master Group Coaching may be just for you. It’s designed to encourage participants to plan for the future by using the group’s energy and knowledge. By design, the energy and support one receives will assist to shift the mindset--from challenging and problematic to motivation and resolve. 

The benefits of group learning

Collaborating with peers who want a more secure, connected, and supportive life will influence you. Individual decision making and possibility thinking will be impacted and enhanced more by the presence of others. Few personal thoughts, decisions and actions are made in isolation—they are influenced by those around us. That's why learning in a group setting is appealing and beneficial.

Group learning promotes the inner strengths of each member and helps them exploit opportunities for personal growth. The Solo Aging Master Group Coaching provides an outlet for members to overcome their stress and frustrations by providing them friendship, collaboration and support.

Together with the group members, you have the opportunity to plan for and mitigate your own concerns that could put you at risk in the future. Those include: Health, social connections, reliable support, finding purpose, and living in a place where it's safe and encourages independence. If you want to be confident in your mid-life and older, and to avoid uncertainty and doubt, it behooves you to identify, assess, and plan for the potential obstacles that could get in the way of enjoying life down the road. 

Gain know-how about aging alone

My guided action steps taught in a group setting give participants the know-how and confidence to create a life you want to live. The tools given in the group will equip participants; widowed, single or divorced, to tackle tough issues like finding a health care proxy, forming a personal care support team, gain self-reliance, find affordable living, outlast money, make strong connections where you live, stay engaged and active, and to learn local resources to help you age well. These are the hectic issues solo agers face when they live apart from family members or have none at all.

If you resonate with the question, "Who will take care of me when I'm old," then the group is for you. If you’re inclined to worry about:

  1. Loss of independence
  2. Declining health
  3. Running out of money
  4. Not being able to live at home
  5. Death of a spouse or other family member
  6. Inability to manage your own activities of daily living
  7. Not able to drive
  8. Isolation or loneliness
  9. Strangers caring for you
  10. Fear of falling or getting hurt
And most of  all.. "Who can I rely on if I get sick or need help?" Then the group is for you. It's the the single person's biggest concern when living alone.

Group discussions answer 
  • "As I grow older, my health may begin to decline—How do I know the probability of my health years from now?"
  • "How do I create a sense of being cared about and cared for—like the kind most family members have for one another?"
  • "Who will watch out for me to make sure my needs are met and who will meet my basic needs for companionship, friendship, and community?"
  • "How can I know that money will outlast me?"
  • "Is the place I live affordable and can I keep up with the maintenance and will my monthly budget keep up with all of the expenses?"  
  • "What are my options?"
  • "Does my community offer help?" 
  • "Is there a process to follow that guides me through aging well or planning for the long term?"

<![CDATA[Evaluate Your Solo Aging Outlook]]>Wed, 14 Apr 2021 13:09:51 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/evaluate-your-solo-aging-outlook

How do the upcoming years look for you? Are you on the path for a healthy, well connected, and secure future? Have you prepared well for the senior years? A question I ask single adults and even seniors constantly.  Few reply affirmatively.  What's your answer?  Have you considered how the future years will play out? Are you positive about the solo aging plan you've put in place? Or does the thought make you pull the covers over your head?   

Nothing gives you more reassurance about the advanced years than having a plan to rely on. But a plan without doing a full evaluation of where one currently stands is futile. That's like filling a flat tire with air before taking the nail out and mending the rip. 

Growing Trend of Single Seniors 

Over 30 percent of adults 55 and older are aging alone.  AARP reports the largest American household to be single people 18 years and older.  The nuclear family has fallen to second. While many people still have a partner, a large number are childless or far away from their children.  Solo aging doesn’t necessarily mean single! And solo living doesn’t have to mean loneliness, isolated, fearful and alone. 

Evaluating where you are in the lifestyle you lead is the wise thing to do. As it stands today, forecasting one's future is a crap shoot and many times you miss the mark. Why? Because people have not been trained to fully assess life's domains. Seriously. How many people have gone to psychotherapy? Mental Health America claims the number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed. From January to September 2020 315,220 took the anxiety screen, 93 percent increase over 2019.  534,784 took the depression screen, 62 percent over the 2019 screens.  Kind of low since we were experiencing total confusion in 2020. 

Seems a pandemic that throws people into isolation and loneliness would have placed more individuals in psychotherapy. Wouldn't you agree? Makes for a good debate about the reasons why more aren't concerned about their well being. Have we adopted a deep-seated "status quo" attitude? A better and more effective action plan to adopt; when you awaken to the reality, you won't tolerate anything less than truth, vision, and action. 

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to their graves with the song still in them."  Henry David Thoreau 

Aging Alone Concerns are Critical

To design a roadmap that personalizes your strategy for living alone will require inspired action with relevant content that's personal to you. The roadmap should embrace simple action steps that you can make each day. You will target those steps to address health, a socially connected, supported, affordable, and a purposeful life. 

Single adults' biggest concerns when living alone without the help of nearby family can be mitigated and remedied. It's possible to create a safe, secure, and independent life. It starts with honestly–
when addressing the life domains or top concerns and the level of satisfaction with each.  Nothing can change if you don’t identify how well you rate them.

Snapshot of the Level of Satisfaction 

Step 1
--understand what is not working and what is working well.

Step 2—thoroughly evaluate each domain using a set of questions and answer honestly. 
Step 3—after rating each of the domains, connect the lines to form an inner wheel, using the diagram above. This gives you an overview of the level of your satisfaction. For an example, years ago when completing this exercise, mine looked like a crooked wheel. 
Step 4—ask, "in what ways do I want to change the shape of the inner wheel." Which domains draw your attention?
Step 5—once an area is selected, proceed with the following questions:
  • Why does this domain need attention?
  • What would it take to raise your satisfaction by one score in this domain?
  • What else can you do to raise your satisfaction in this domain? 
  • How will you maintain the motivation to follow through with needed changes?

Growing Older Alone Lessons 

If there was one lesson I learned from the family caregiving years and knowing that I will age alone: if I make internal changes and take actions today and most days to move me closer to good health, social engagement, better finances, affordable housing, and more, then why waste my time on worry and regret? If I don't put energy into making a more secure life in some fashion, then my future will be filled with complacency and resignation. I hope I deserve more. 

As mentioned in the article, Solo Aging Group Support for Adults, to live a healthy life as a single senior, it takes an expansive social network of friends, enhanced health care and retirement planning for solo living options, having purpose, knowledge of one's health risks and reducing them, and creating a support community.

Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers have the highest need for retirement planning especially for those living solo since they have the highest divorce rates, fewest number of children, and continue to care for parents. Many are primed to become a solo ager. Boomers typically do not have a large retirement savings however, others factors must be planned for to plan well when no family member is around to help. 

Planning for Solo Agers

If this exercise has inspired you to take action, then you're primed for The Solo Aging Master Group Coaching. The group is ongoing for as long as you choose. You can opt out any time but I doubt you will want to (because that's how insightful the information is for members.)  The exercises for the solo aging group coaching is based on my upcoming book, SOLO and SMART, out in 2022 or earlier.

<![CDATA[Tactics for Aging Well when Living Alone]]>Fri, 09 Apr 2021 19:51:55 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/tactics-for-aging-well-when-living-alone
The age of individualism has set Baby Boomers in the direction of changing aging—for the better.  Many of those born between 1946 and 1964 are more than half way through the life continuum and flourishing solo. 

The numbers of solo seniors continue to rise. An AARP Public Policy Institute Report expects the number of women ages 80 to 84 without biological children will increase from nearly 12% in 2010 to 16% in 2030 and to almost 19% in 2050. According to the US Census 2020, 31 percent of the 65 and older live alone. Furthermore, the number of never married Americans is growing from 9 percent in 1970 to 35 percent of the 25 to 50 age group.  And the largest American household, 28 percent, consists of single adults—passing the nuclear family by 8 percent. 

Solo Agers are Changing Aging 

An elder care professional, Kelly, who is aging alone, prefers to rely on herself rather than institutions and even friends and acquaintances for help. Solos of this generation have spent their adult life funding their own mortgages, college funds, retirement accounts, paying for their parents’ care and getting themselves to the airport, shopping, paying bills—all on one paycheck. We’re very independent—and we’re electing to limit the involvement of family and friends when support is needed, or not to involve them at all. These solo agers prefer to self manage the aging challenges when it comes to planning for the long term.

Most of us were family caregivers—we helped our relatives to coordinate care and served as healthcare and financial agents. We managed their care and observed first hand what it’s like to grow old. Family caregiving showed many of us what we will need to age well. But for solo agers, there are no family members to oversee our care. While few rely on a close friend many more cannot. Friends are in the same age group and dealing with their own health and care issues. More significantly, friends are not willing to take on the responsibility of making health decisions for someone who is not family or even to take on the responsibilities of caring for someone else.

Multi-Person Approach for Care

Like Kelly, the self reliant and independent type of solo ager will turn to a multi-person strategy—a team of support made up of friends and acquaintances to be advisors and helpers, though not necessarily “deciders or be the primary responsible contact.” Others piece together a collection of volunteers and paid professionals. Still other solos, with adequate resources, are seeking out paid professionals to meet all needs, from home care to health decision surrogates. And, unfortunately, there are far too many solos doing nothing—no planning—assuming “there is still time” or “the system” will take care of things. This strategy will put more pressure on the already overburdened public “safety net.” It’s the reason to consider joining my Solo Aging Master Group Coaching—we tackle such issues head on.

Paid Care Managers and Patient Advocates

Older adults aging alone who have the resources to pay out of pocket for assistance can hire care managers, banks and trust officers, physicians, attorneys, social service providers, gerontology professionals, and even move to a senior housing community. 

If you’re a young boomer new to the idea of planning ahead, consider hiring a patient advocate to assist with finding a new doctor, or just want someone to check in on you. Patient advocates are a wonderful resource if you’re confused about the medications and concerned about allergic reactions, or if you need help searching and selecting a specialist, need help navigating the clinical trial landscape, or need help securing financial resources for treatments. 

The 60+ solos are very familiar and comfortable using paid expertise than older adults of the past generations. The young seniors paid for elder care for parents and daycare for children. Since COVID, boomers pay people to deliver their groceries, and pay professionals to manage their money and make a career transition. 

Build a Family of Choice

Solo seniors navigate multiple challenges when living alone but the most worrisome one is, “How do I compensate for not having adult children and other family members to look out for me, because counting on good friends is not what I want to do.”  It’s a common remark and dilemma that I hear most often during my speaking engagements to seniors and family caregivers. It was the same worry I had after taking care of my parents. 

According to the CDC 70 percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease and that puts them at even higher risk when aging alone with no support at home. Both safety and independence are threatened. With the high prevalence of solo individuals and the clear risks associated, it is crucial that adults plan for the years ahead, create support and connections, and learn the available resources.

To be crystal clear, a community of support does not mean expecting your neighbor or friend to be the go to person for your care needs; a ride to the doctor’s office, shopping, meal preparation, cleaning, running errands, etc. Instead, a community of support is your reliable circle of neighbors and friends who simply have your back. The person that makes you feel, “Ah, I’m not alone, there is someone who cares.”   

The Go to Support Team
Start here when building a team of support:

  • Pharmacists
  • Medical professionals
  • Care Managers
  • Daily Money Managers
  • Patient Advocates
  • Clergy/Church members
  • Volunteers
  • Caregiver consultant/Social worker
  • Counselors/Therapists
  • Adult day program staff
  • Home Care Providers
  • Medical organizations
Your physician and staff can give the necessary medical guidance to remain healthy, strong, and recommend care remedies. Pharmacists will answer questions about medication; usage and interactions. Clergy and church members will give spiritual guidance, occasional companion visit, and a meal or light transportation. Neighbors and friends are good to call on when feeling isolated and alone. Adult day staff can offer outside the house activities. A caregiver consultant and patient advocates offer resources, education and even act as a family mediator. Home care agencies offer certified and licensed staff to provide custodial and skilled care services. There are widespread benefits to having a multi-faceted care team.

​Communication, cooperation, and forming partnerships within the community can promote a successful aging experience.

<![CDATA[What's Needed in a Plan for Solo Aging]]>Wed, 31 Mar 2021 20:41:11 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/whats-needed-in-a-plan-for-solo-aging
As a person aging alone, you must understand the roadblocks a single person encounters when on their own.  There are eight to ten hard aging topics that all adults will face sooner or later. Not understanding the issues and not addressing each one head on will eventually turn into a stumbling block that impedes well being and put a person at risk of unnecessary worry and concern. 

When you know the potential risks, it equips a person with clarity, and knowledge of what’s ahead. It’s the not knowing that heightens worry and stress.  The Solo Aging Master Group Coaching will equip participants with strategies to tackle the concerns and give answers to, “How do I plan for the years ahead as a single person? Is it possible to take care of myself with no immediate family? Where do I start?”

Members get an overview of the upcoming obstacles that single people face living alone while growing older and learn the benefits of thinking forward one, five, and ten years from now. The leading obstacles for aging well are health, housing, social connections, transportation, and help and support. When a member of the Master Group Coaching you take the first step in predicting the future. Think about the life domains and where you stand with each: health, housing, money, social connections and support, and accessible transportation.

Participants will begin planning for the future by knowing what they need most right now as it relates to the years aheads.   

Is Managing Stress Needed?   

Planning is a thought process that requires mental effort and a cognitive capacity unencumbered by stress. Other strengths like self-regulation and self-control attribute to taking responsibility and action.  This is important because stress affects the ability to concentrate and focus our attention on the matters at hand. 

Is Better Health Needed?
Because we’re living longer, we need to keep our health care costs down as much as possible.  Each of us has individual desires and preferences and even different needs. There is NO one way to handle health concerns--each of us are different. You may have genetic issues to contend with. That’s when you need to follow your doctor’s care plan. But if your family genetics are strong, you will worry less. However, that does not mean you can ignore taking care of yourself. 

Do You Need to Increase Self-Reliance?
Having self-reliance is important for several reasons. The most obvious being that depending on others for help, means there will be times when it’s not available.
  • Means you can solve problems and make decisions by yourself.
  • Allows you to feel happy by yourself, in yourself, and about yourself—without needing to rely on others;
  • Involves developing self-acceptance, a very powerful thing to have;
  • Involves acquiring self-knowledge and practicing self-compassion;
  • Gives you perspective, which in turn…
  • Gives you direction.

Is Shifting Your Perspective about Aging Required?
Adopt a positive viewpoint about aging--see it as a healthy, normal part of life. And it’s the mindset that you will do whatever is needed in order to continue doing the things that you love and are important to you as you grow older. Some ways to do that are pursuing passions and making contributions to the world around them.

Shift Mindset from problem focus to possibility thinking. We are much more powerful than we realize. "When you focus on problems, you'll have more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you'll have more opportunities."

You will learn to ask: "What is my situation and what are my possibilities?"

Social Connections--Meet new people and stay engaged
Living in isolation and being lonely can be dangerous for health.  Staying socially active as you age can reduce risk for various mental health issues including depression and Alzheimer's disease. By keeping your brain constantly engaged in activity and interaction you are sharpening your mind and reducing risk of cognitive decline.

We depend on friends for participation in social activities but rely on close relatives for support during illness. But who do you count on if relatives aren’t nearby? That’s why our social circles and support teams must involve neighbors, peers, friends, members in our faith organizations, where we play, senior centers. 

Research has confirmed the health benefits of having a large number of social relationships. But does it matter who we're connecting with—family, friends, neighbors? To satisfy their various social, emotional, and health needs, adults turn to different types of social relationships. 

Take Care of Practical Necessities
If you take care of the practical items first, you’ll be free to pursue  fulfilling social connections with fewer worries:
  • Legal documents
  • Keep your affairs in order
  • Finances--Know how they will support your future
  • Get and stay organized

Affordable Living Arrangements
What is your preferred living arrangement? What type of lifestyle do you want to live?

Once you get a handle on these, you'll begin to see how simple it really is. You can make huge predictions incredibly accurately. The more you control that information and those variables, the more detailed a prediction you can make.

Start by making safe predictions. Add more detail and complexity to see the trends in your life. Then make basic predictions about your future. Gradually develop pinpoint accuracy. As you start to see just how well you can predict your life, you will begin to see just how adjustable your future really is. You can predict it. You should predict it. It's your life. It should be exactly what you want it to be.


<![CDATA[How Solo Boomers Retirement Differs]]>Thu, 25 Mar 2021 20:12:13 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/how-solo-boomers-retirement-differs
The skills needed for navigating and planning for solo aging are new and unlike the way it was for our parents. One reason is you live alone and unlike your parents, it’s all on you--everything. From bills to mortgages to car loans to food and all costs of living falls on you, the solo individual.  

​Our lives are vastly different from married people because the individual doesn’t have someone to do the simple tasks
--pitch in with chores around the house, run an errand, change a light bulb, fix the toilet, to more complex things like drive the person to the eye doctor, or check in on them if sick, to have a conversation with after a tough day, or get help with making medical and financial decisions. So many things folks living alone must face on their own.  

A friend says it best, When my husband was alive and I was working, I often came home really exhausted, and found dinner cooking on the barbecue. Even long after the bereavement was over, I missed having somebody to share opinions, ideas and my day with. Since I have no children, I often wonder exactly what on earth I am going to do when I can no longer drive, or need help because I am ill.

Solo Boomers are different from Older Relatives

  • Parents had a full company pension plan which most of us don’t. 
  • Parents had offspring and a wide spread extended family to rely on for help. Most solo agers don’t. 
  • Parents stayed together through thick and thin. Boomers did not. We have the highest divorce rates. 
  • Parents grew up during the depression, boomers grew up in more prosperous times.
  • Boomers made more money, had access to credit cards, and spent freely because it was good for the economy. 
So how does this alter a solo person’s retirement preferences and lifestyles in comparison to their parents? The Greatest Generation was more cautious about saving for retirement because they had lived through the Great Depression. My dad saved “every nickel” he could get his hands on. He single handedly taught me and my siblings to be thrifty with money. His cautious point of view prepared my parents for retirement. 

My dad retired at 63 because he had learned to invest and save those nickels wherever he could. He opened various savings accounts, CD’s, bought bonds and certificates of deposits, and invested in his company pension plan on top of social security. My parents never traveled or went on vacations.  

Boomers' Retirement Preferences

Boomers have much different retirement preferences, plus we’re living longer and retiring in our seventies, maybe, but certainly not our 60s. For solo agers we can’t retire that young. Most of us wait till our seventies. Furthermore, we like to travel, dine out, and spend more on entertainment and attractions. At the same time, we enjoy learning new skills. But we’re faced with the question of how much money we’ll need to save for a comfortable retirement lifestyle.

What’s more relevant, solo boomers don’t want to retire and grow older like our parents did--we want more meaningful lives. It’s quite obvious we grew up in a very different world than they did.

In the next post, I'll discuss where solo boomers go from here when planning ahead for the future:  
Skills Needed to Plan for Aging Alone.