Living Alone and Growing Old and Alone – The Caring Generation®

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The Caring Generation® – Episode 54 September 2, 2020. The Challenges of Living Alone and Growing Old Alone with Pamela D Wilson, Caregiving Expert, and Guest Dr. Elena Portacolone from the Division of Geriatric Medicine at the University of California San Francisco.

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Living Alone and Growing Old Alone

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00:04 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone; in fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.

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00:48 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio program coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on conversations about health, well-being, caring for ourselves and loved ones, all tied together with humor and laughter that are essential to being a caregiver. The topic for this caregiving radio program is the challenges of living alone, loving it, and planning for the possibility of growing old alone and needing care.

How to Have a Better Plan for Aging and Retirement?

01:22 Pamela D. Wilson: According to the US Census and Pew Research, about 27% of American households age 60 and older are single-person households. The same statistic, about 28%, holds for persons over age 65 who live alone. About 46% of US households are shared by couples or two people. The numbers between single and couple—two-person households—shifted because of the coronavirus. You might be surprised to learn that three million adults, age 18 to 34, moved back into the homes of parents or grandparents as a result of job losses, roommates being unable to pay for rent, having too much debt. Just as these parents, single parents, or grandparents were starting to enjoy their newfound freedom, their lives were changed overnight by their children who are young adults needing help because of situations related to COVID. Routines were re-adjusted.

02:29 Pamela D. Wilson: On the other hand, singles who were living alone probably felt and continue to feel more isolated because of COVID. Who are these single dwellers, and how do they manage? How many of you think about growing old alone? Is being old and alone a worrisome thought? During this program, we’ll talk about tips for living alone How to plan for the possibility of living alone and needing someone to care for you in old age. To start this conversation, let’s talk about the patient experience. If you don’t currently attend a lot of medical appointments or you’ve never been hospitalized for any reason, you might be shocked to learn about the patient experience in healthcare and the struggles that can happen. If you are a caregiver, you might be watching your elderly parents struggle to get good care from the healthcare system that doesn’t always treat older people with dignity.

03:28 Pamela D. Wilson: Our special guest for the health and wellness segment of this caregiver radio program is Dr. Elena Portacolone, an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, and a Pepper Center Scholar at the Division of Geriatric Medicine at UCSF. Dr. Portacolone is also an alumnus of the Butler-Williams program at the National Institute on Aging and National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Turin, Italy. Her interests include preventable health differences, living arrangements, cognitive impairment, aging in place, and artificial intelligence applied to dementia research. She will share research about social isolation for older adults living alone, including the risk for elders diagnosed with memory loss. No matter our age, the likelihood of living alone at some point in life, especially if we are a woman, is greater than for men.

04:40 Pamela D. Wilson: Like discussions about health that usually don’t happen until a loved one or we have health issues, we don’t often talk about our plan or even really think about growing old and alone. Planning for being old and alone is really so important. Why you might wonder? In part, it’s statistics. In 2012, there were about 6 million households of persons aged 85 and older. Eighteen years later in 2030, can you guess what happens? The number increases to almost 9 million, and in 2050, doubles to 18 million for people age 85 and older living alone. If you are 55 or older today, you’re part of these 30-year projections.

05:33 Pamela D. Wilson: In addition to talking about the pluses and minuses of living alone, like never having to close the bathroom door, seriously, who’s going to see you? Other joys might be binge-watching TV shows or sports programs. What about eating a big piece of cake and ice cream or maybe drinking some wine by yourself? That might be a heavenly experience. Let’s talk about the challenges of living alone, specific to planning for aging and needing care. Statistics confirm that more women than men will be living alone in their later years. This is not a surprise. In most cases, men—especially spouses—pass away before women, mainly because of health issues. Part of growing old, though, is also making choices. Choices not to marry, or sometimes we have the unexpected experience of divorce or widowhood, losing a spouse or a partner.

06:33 Pamela D. Wilson: Women, more than men, should realize the importance of planning for what we, people who work in the healthcare industry, call long-term care. If you are a caregiver, you’re likely caring for a spouse or a parent who might be old and alone. The length of time, the type of care needed, and where care is provided all relate to the idea of long-term care. Parents and spouses may not consider or plan for growing old alone. If you have children, how many of you expect that one of your children will be your caregiver? Or did you ever imagine being the caregiver for an adult child? How many of you already know which child you’d like to be your caregiver? Even though you may not have talked about caregiving with this child, you might be thinking about what happens if you end up living alone. This thinking is right on track.

07:19 Pamela D. Wilson: Growing old alone without a plan for who will care for you and money to pay for care is one of the challenges of living alone. Let’s say you live alone. Who do you call when something unexpected happens? People who are living alone learn early about having a back-up plan for unexpected parts of life. What are the success tips for living alone, whether you’re 25 or 75? What happens when you are growing old and alone and become a patient in the healthcare system? What plans do you have for this today?

07:51 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s never too early to consider the possibility that many of us at some time will be living alone and growing old alone. In these days of COVID when life has been turned upside down and topsy-turvy, a lot of people feel that they can’t plan because of all the uncertainty. It’s true. Planning is more of a challenge because of COVID. But not planning and not focusing on activities, on things that we can control will postpone or delay our return to a new normal. Whatever that might be. I really don’t think anybody knows.

08:27 Pamela D. Wilson: The number one tip for successfully living alone is to strengthen relationships. Relationships with friends and family, and to make new friendships, like we talked about on the program last week. More on enhancing relationships and tips for living alone in the second half of this program. We are off to a break. Practical tips for caregivers and aging adults are in my Caring for Aging Parents caregiving blog on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. Up next, Dr. Elena Portacolone joins us to share research about social isolation for older adults living alone, including risks for the elderly diagnosed with memory loss. This is Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.

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11:33 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio show for caregivers and aging adults, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Joining us is Dr. Elena Portacolone. Dr. Portacolone, welcome to the show.

11:50 Dr. Elena Portacolone: Thank you, thank you.

11:52 Pamela D. Wilson: So let’s start with the first question. Why are older adults who live alone more likely than younger people to experience social isolation?

12:03 Dr. Elena Portacolone: Well, first of all, we have to understand what is social isolation. So social isolation is having limited meaningful relationships with human beings. So with that base, older adults who live alone are more likely to be socially isolated than younger generations living alone. Because it’s harder to have a meaningful relationship with human beings when we live alone in older age. Because friends might be less available or it might be more difficult to organize outings with friends, and because we retire. So we may have less social activities, and then people in our neighborhood could have moved away. So we might have lost touch with neighbors with whom we bonded years ago. Also, we might have less stamina and we might have less money to spend, and also we might need help with transportation—so it might be more difficult to go to places.

13:18 Dr. Elena Portacolone: And also it’s important to think that also family members may not be much around or may not even exist, and then also on the top of that, the relationship with family members may be toxic or could bring a sense of being upset, so this is just a combination of different reasons.

13:45 Pamela D. Wilson: And you mentioned some older adults who live in neighborhoods and they stay there so long that people move away or the neighborhood changes. Some of these neighborhoods change to high crime neighborhoods. So how does that affect the older adults in either maintaining friendships or making new social relationships?

14:06 Dr. Elena Portacolone: In a neighborhood with a high crime?

14:12 Pamela D. Wilson: Yes, yes.

14:12 Dr. Elena Portacolone: Well, it’s really, really difficult, if not impossible. In my study in Richmond, California, it’s a town unfortunately with a very high crime rate. A social worker defined it as a desert of resources, and it was true It was really hard to find resources and imagining what I just said about social isolation in older age when you live alone, and imagining also adding crime around you when you live alone, so it’s harder to go out because you might be robbed. It’s harder to use elevators because you could be attacked being in an elevator. And the relationship with other people could be extremely toxic, so it’s hard to trust other people. And even the environment, even the stepping out could be a minefield, because pavements could be cracked. And so it just exacerbates, even more, the social isolation.

15:26 Pamela D. Wilson: And I read that study, that’s actually how I found you, and in there it mentioned an underground economy of caregivers who might be homeless and might be taking advantage of the elderly. Can you talk about that for a second?

15:42 Dr. Elena Portacolone: Yes, there was. I remember there was a participant that I was visiting from time to time, and he had—he didn’t—he was extremely isolated. No contact with family members and he had problems walking and there was this woman in his house, and on one side she was running some errands for him. But on the other side, she was also stealing his food. And when I arrived, she left, but she left her backpack, and he told me, “you see, these people like her, they leave things behind, so they always have an excuse to come back.” And so this is just an example, and there were many examples like these.

16:37 Pamela D. Wilson: And so when we look at the older adults who live alone in high crime neighborhoods, and then some of these people have dementia, what are the commonalities between the two, about being vulnerable?

16:50 Dr. Elena Portacolone: So the commonality. Well, number one, also there are—therefore, they are older adults living alone in high-crime neighborhoods. Older adults living alone with dementia, and then also there are adults who live alone with dementia in high-crime neighborhoods, which is the double whammy. And so the other commonality is isolation. Isolation on many levels, and not only in terms of meaningful relationships but also in terms of services. So it’s very hard when we live alone with dementia, as well as when we live alone in high-crime neighborhoods to receive really good services that we can trust, and we are nourished from them. So I think that’s the commonality.

17:44 Pamela D. Wilson: And do you think service providers are afraid to go into these high-crime neighborhoods, is that a concern also?

17:51 Dr. Elena Portacolone: Very much so, very much so. Very much so. Some care workers were extremely afraid, they said they don’t step in some buildings because they’re just dangerous to step in. So back to the idea of the desert of resources, it really frames well how it is to live alone in high-crime neighborhoods.

18:18 Pamela D. Wilson: Okay. We are going to continue our conversation with Dr. Elena Portacolone after this break, but Dr. Portacolone, I want to give you a thought. So after the break, I want to come back and talk about older adults who are living alone who might be afraid even to go out to seek medical care, and then they have diagnoses that happen, and I want to talk about that and what happens with all of that. Listeners, the podcasts of this radio show for caregivers, and all of The Caring Generation podcasts are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com on The Caring Generation page.

18:55 Pamela D. Wilson: Tonight’s podcast will be available in about a week. For people who weren’t able to join us live tonight, you can go to my website, click on the media tab and scroll down to find The Caring Generation radio show tab. This is Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn radio. Stay with me, we’ll be right back.

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21:34 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation and TuneIn Radio channel 100. We are back with Dr. Elena Portacolone. Dr. Portacolone, so let’s talk about people who are diagnosed with dementia and their needs for help.

21:53 Elena Portacolone: Thank you. And this is a population that I know extremely well because I’ve been studying them. I’ve been spending time with them over the last five years. And so according to my research, for in the US, there are 4.3 million people, older adults, with cognitive impairment living alone, and they experience, a major, a common experience is major distress. A participant says, “Inside I am on edge,” for example, and another participant wrote to tell me about her experience. She wrote a poem, she wrote, “Midway into the sentence I stop. Panic for a lost world, I stopped.” Imagine when we talk—life is really difficult as it is—but imagine forgetting what you just said and knowing that you might lose your words or your train of thought. Suddenly without knowing when that will happen. And also it’s really hard to get organized and to plan ahead. And another participant told me it’s a combination of not remembering anything and everything else is mañana.

23:15 Pamela D. Wilson: Oh.

23:17 Dr. Elena Portacolone: And thus it’s really hard, yes, and thus it’s really hard to keep appointments, to manage doctor visits. Another participant, she said to me, “I’m like a crazy person, I’m checking every time, you know something is coming up.” And she was having different calendars, and so it’s just another layer of difficulty. Because when we have a cognitive impairment, it’s not only our short-term memory is weaker than in the past, but also it’s harder to get organized and to remember and to understand, to recognize people that come to visit us. And also, older adults living alone with cognitive impairment are often afraid of being evicted from their homes, and that’s really a major source of concern. Because their home—they can navigate it very well their home— while outside it’s much more difficult.

24:26 Dr. Elena Portacolone: Another participant that was very worried about having to leave her house, said to me, “At this point, it’s like there is too many people and I don’t know who has the power to do what I want as far as my welfare.” And then she then asked me, “Is there somebody that can come along and say, you can’t stay in your house anymore?” So that’s a major concern to be pointed as a danger to yourself or to others, and having to leave your home because of the cognitive impairment.

25:00 Pamela D. Wilson: And then I know sometimes the medical system is not very sensitive in how they talk to somebody about a diagnosis. And one of your articles had a story of Mrs. Banks, can you share that?

25:12 Dr. Elena Portacolone: Yes, sure, yes. Mrs. Banks, as soon as she lost her husband, she noticed that she had problem writing which—and she’s extremely educated, and she did some (writing) after being visited by a physician. Only after 20-25 minutes of that—she was answering some questions. She told her that she had Alzheimer’s disease. And she said that it was “brutal,” in her words, and she said, in her words, “I was very upset by this woman. She told me right off the bat I had Alzheimer’s, dementia. But the lady never explained anything. I was so shocked that I had no idea. And the first thing she said after that was, I have no choice but to inform the DMV, because that’s the law. The law requires it.” And then she (Mrs. Banks) added to me, “And I’m left not knowing what to do about myself.” And when I—it’s really important for the listeners to understand that when I read these quotes, I’m talking about quotes that are representative of many participants.

26:28 Dr. Elena Portacolone: And so that was not an isolated case. I’ve been studying more than 80 older adults living alone with cognitive impairment, also with my team, and also those that do not speak English. And so it’s common either to be shocked about the diagnosis and receive it in a harsh way and also not being told what to do afterward. And the main reason is that there are very limited services when we live alone with dementia. And so that’s one experience, and the other experience is the fact that often we don’t get diagnosed with dementia. A physician doesn’t say to his or her patient that this person has dementia. And one of the main reasons according to the literature is that because there is not a cure, and so the physician doesn’t want to upset the person. But what happens is that then the person is often left trying to understand on their own what they have, and which adds to their distress.

27:55 Pamela D. Wilson: And so, Dr., what can or should the healthcare system do to help this uncertainty for people that are diagnosed and how do they plan for future care? We’ve got about a minute-and-a-half left.

28:07 Dr. Elena Portacolone: For me, the solution is we need a strong system providing homecare aides to those who have a diagnosis of cognitive impairment and live alone. It’s already happening in Denmark, and so a home care aide can make a gigantic difference in older adults who live alone with dementia, and this person should be available to them upon technologies, and already so now with COVID, I’ve been following up my participants during the COVID and having a home care aide made a difference between night and day, and it was extremely—more than helpful. It was really critical, the home care aide, as an essential worker. So I hope that with this pandemic the role of the homecare aide will become, will hit the spotlight.

29:09 Pamela D. Wilson: Dr. Portacolone, thank you so much for joining us. Listeners, invite your family and friends to join us every Wednesday evening for The Caring Generation. This is Pamela D. Wilson, your host on The Caring Generation. We are live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn radio. Stay with me, we’ll be right back after this break.

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31:50 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults live from the BBM global network, Channel 100, and TuneIn radio. We’re back on the topic of tips for successfully living alone and the idea of strengthening relationships. When we think about the possibility of growing old alone, whether we are living alone today or not, having friends and people to share time with can be a comforting thought. Some of us live near family and have close relationships. Others may not get along with family, others may be in relationships or situations where there’s crime or abuse, and the situation just isn’t good.

32:35 Pamela D. Wilson: So when we think about it, what relationships can we strengthen today? Not from thinking about what your family or friends can do for you, but from an equal position of 50-50. How can you help friends or family members today so that they might help you if you are living alone and need help or care in the future? Start by talking about the realities of growing old alone in your families. It might be a subject nobody has even considered. If you’re single, think about strengthening relationships with your friends, begin talking about plans for being old and alone. What if you or a friend need help because of a health issue? What back-up plans can you create today? Because health issues can happen at any age, not just when we’re old. If you’re single and you don’t have family nearby or a family that you trust or really friends to come to the rescue, it’s time to start building those relationships and making close friends so that everyone has a plan. Investigate social groups or opportunities to meet people with similar interests, make a consistent effort to get out there.

33:41 Pamela D. Wilson: If the idea of making friends has you feeling nervous, listen to The Caring Generation podcast interview with Dr. Jeffrey Hall, it’s called What Are Adult Daycare Programs and How to Make Friends at Any Age. Tip number two for successfully living alone is about community involvement. Research confirms that single people—more than married couples—spend more time with friends and out and about in the community. This approach to life of being socially active and outer-focused has positive effects on health and mental well-being. You’ll find that when you invite people into your life, others will ask you into theirs. Everybody that you meet may not become a good friend, but if you’re open, you might receive invitations that result in opportunities to meet new people who can become good friends with whom you can then reciprocate.

34:35 Pamela D. Wilson: The idea of reciprocity is a topic that we discussed earlier with Dr. Portacolone. Older adults sometimes can become unable to reciprocate or help others when they have health issues because they have difficulty caring for themselves, or fears if they live in unsafe buildings. They may not want to go out in the hallways—take elevators to get out of the building— they’re afraid to go grocery shopping. So think about this. Help others today, so that when you need help or are living alone and you may not be able to reciprocate, you have built-in goodwill with others who are willing and physically able to help you. On this thought, look around at your neighbors today. Are any of them elderly? Might they need help and not be asking?

35:23 Pamela D. Wilson: When I was young, I lived in a house next to an older woman. Her name was Agnes. She was in her 80s, her husband had passed away, and I mowed her lawn and shoveled her snow every time I did mine. It was only a little bit of extra effort, but not much. She appreciated the help, because she couldn’t do that for herself. In return, she baked me pies and made baked goods from rhubarb and apples that were growing in my yard. It was a great exchange.

35:48 Pamela D. Wilson: Tip number three for successfully living alone is to prioritize wellness. If a focus on health and wellness hasn’t been part of your life, the idea of changing health habits may seem daunting. How will your life change for the better if you prioritize wellness or how will it change for the worse if you don’t. If you are a caregiver for elderly parents, look at the daily living situation of your parents. Do they have health issues? How do and will these health issues continue to impact their lives and the amount of help they might need from you? Being a caregiver for elderly parents can serve as an eye-opener to help us as their children plan for health care and the financial costs of care.

36:36 Pamela D. Wilson: As you care for elderly parents, learn everything you can about their health. Attend medical appointments with them. Ask questions. Learn to advocate and navigate the healthcare system, so that you can create a better plan for yourself. Investigate the costs of care to avoid surprises in retirement years about not having enough money to pay for care. This leads us to tip number four for successfully living alone and growing old alone: Financial independence for women. This is my soapbox. Ladies, you can, but don’t always depend on husbands or partners to provide for you or care for you. I know it sounds a little negative, but it’s reality. It’s self-protection. You hope for the best and plan to be independent if necessary.

37:21 Pamela D. Wilson: Women who take time out of the workforce to raise children or care for elderly parents lose substantial financial earnings that you can never regain. The topic of lost income for women is rarely discussed in marital situations. Women take care of children then a husband or partner, all of the family money is spent on spousal care. What’s left for you? Sometimes little or nothing. If you plan to be a woman who raises children and takes time out of the workforce, find a way that your husband or partner contributes financially to a retirement plan that you solely own or a long-term care insurance plan that you exclusively own. If you’re a house husband, do the same. There are more women than men living alone at the end of life. Including women living in nursing homes because there is no money to pay for their care.

38:11 Pamela D. Wilson: The number five tip for successfully living alone and growing old alone is financial planning for care. Many women tell me they don’t have funds to save. My question is, where can you find $10 a week or another amount to invest? If you start early, these amounts grow over the years. Can you invest in a long-term care insurance plan? The younger you are when you buy the plan, the less expensive the premium, and you won’t have to worry about health qualifying for that insurance, which can happen. Because if you already have health issues, you may not be able to qualify, or the cost for that plan is going to be expensive. You might not be able to afford it. I want you to hold on to that thought. We are going to continue to talk more about long-term care insurance after this break, including living alone, growing old alone and making plans.

39:00 Pamela D. Wilson: Online caregiver support is available on my website, PamelaDWilson.com, and in my online caregiving course, it’s called Taking Care of Elderly Parents, Stay at Home and Beyond. This is Pamela D. Wilson, you are with me on The Caring Generation, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn radio. Stay with me, we’ll be right back.

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41:43 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, author, and speaker on The Caring Generation, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn radio. Information for corporations and groups about elder care and caregiving, on-site education, online webinars, video conferencing presentations, employee and virtual training programs are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com.

42:06 Pamela D. Wilson: If your company offers a long-term care insurance plan, strongly consider this benefit, and if you can buy the insurance for your elderly parents, all the better. Long-term care insurance provides a choice about where and how to receive care. Many people think that their retirement savings or social security can cover the costs of care: Sometimes, yes. But many times no, because when care is needed, most of my clients over the years have been firm in saying, “Oh, there’s rarely enough money to create the ideal care situation that I would want.” How many of you want to live life on your own terms? A lot of us feel this way. What gets in our way? Unexpected events, costs, things like COVID, and when we’re old, it’s health issues that continue to get worse.

42:57 Pamela D. Wilson: In our conversation with Dr. Portacolone, she talked about successful aging adults who had brilliant careers, But they struggled when they received a diagnosis of dementia, and also they didn’t have anybody they trusted to help or advocate for them. Somebody to trust if you have memory loss or health complications can be a huge concern. Many people aren’t aware of the costs of care before they need care. In-home care, averages today, depending on where you live, $20 to $35 an hour; assisted living, $5000 a month or more. Memory care, $7000 a month, or more. Nursing home care, $9000 to $10,000 a month. Who has that kind of money? Nothing except for your retirement savings, long-term care insurance, investments can pay for this type of care, not Medicare, and not Medicaid until you spend all of your money.

43:51 Pamela D. Wilson: This is shocking to most people. These are the things that nobody tells you about caregiving or needing care until it’s too late. This is why we’re talking about it today. This takes us to tip number six for successfully living alone: Estate planning. We all need a person who we can trust to serve as a medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney, and the personal representative or trustee of our estate. Growing old alone places many people in vulnerable positions, especially if no plans were made for care. Delays in planning for growing old alone can happen because simply we don’t know what to do or how to prepare. People aren’t showing up to tell us this kind of information, except here on this radio show. Some of these discussions, though, they begin in the workplace, when you’re offered the opportunity to join a 401K or another type of retirement plan. Participating in health insurance or long-term care insurance might be talked about at your workplace. Retirement plans, health insurance, and other plans in the workplace deserve serious thought.

44:54 Pamela D. Wilson: The earlier you begin participating, the longer time frame you have to build that little nest egg to create the retirement of your dreams. It’s also good to find a financial planner that you can trust to advise you. Some people invest on their own, and this works out. Many people try and they fail to accumulate substantial savings. Back on my female subject here—women tend to trust husbands to be the financial planner. My advice, women—get involved. Go to those meetings. Learn about money. Learn about financial planning.

45:28 Pamela D. Wilson: Financial planning, much like legal planning, is a specialty. On the subject of legal planning for living alone and growing old alone, find an elder law probate or an estate planning attorney and create power of attorney documents, a living will, and a will or a trust. When you take this step, though, you’ll want to have somebody in mind who has agreed to help you. If not, you can hire your professionals. As I’ve talked on a lot of these shows, I was that medical and financial power of attorney, a court-appointed guardian, personal representative of the estate, and trustee for many of my elderly and disabled clients. There are trustworthy professionals that you can find if you don’t have family. You can find these through attorneys who specialize in this area. If you’re living alone, this planning and really all planning about growing old alone and needing care is more critical for you.

46:20 Pamela D. Wilson: The number seven tip for successfully living alone is to establish positive routines. Living alone means that you’re responsible for yourself. There’s good and there’s bad with that. It can be a relief that you are the only focus of your life; it can also be stressful knowing that your habits, your behaviors, and successes—it all relies on you. Interesting, though, women who live alone are often more educated and career-focused because they have to support themselves and sometimes children. Married women might be trying to juggle a career and raising children. Men, though, unless there are no women in the family, are less likely to become caregivers for aging parents. Although husbands do become the primary caregivers for wives. Regardless of the situation, male or female—positive routines if you are coupled or single—they can provide a sense of stability. Think of activities you enjoy. Things you want to learn, or things you know you should do, like exercise or eat better. Shouldn’t we all do that?

47:26 Pamela D. Wilson: How can you incorporate one or more of these positive activities into a daily or weekly routine? Let’s say that you like to read the newspaper, which kind of seems to be going away in favor of getting news online. Set time aside every day to catch up on the news. Read positive things, it’s all good for your mind. Another positive routine could be a weekly phone call or a get together with a friend. The ability to share these common interests and participate in stimulating conversations, it’s good for the mind. Call friends who live in town. Call your friends out of town. Just start picking up the phone. Think about whether there’s something that you want to learn. The sky is the limit based on the time you have and your willingness to commit to learn.

48:11 Pamela D. Wilson: Living alone has the benefit of being able to control your schedule if nobody is relying on you for care, like an elderly parent. The downside is it’s easy to become demotivated without having a friend or another person to motivate us to keep us going—if we can’t motivate ourselves. We’ll talk about the eighth tip for successfully living alone after this break.

48:32 Pamela D. Wilson: Check out my book, it is on my website, The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Unexpected Changes. I am Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving author, expert, and speaker. This is The Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn radio. Stay with me, we’ll be right back after this break.

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51:13 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. This is The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn radio. Please share The Caring Generation with your friends, family, co-workers, the companies where you work, your social groups at church, and everywhere. One in four people you know are caregivers looking for hope, help, and support that is here on The Caring Generation every Wednesday and on my website 247 at PamelaDWilson.com.

51:49 Pamela D. Wilson: Coming up next week on The Caring Generation, a topic by caregiver request: Caregiving Ruined My Life. Tips for taking back your life when negative thoughts about being a caregiver flood your mind. Special guest Bill Gardner joins us to talk about navigating through swampy, emotional, and negative life situations.

52:14 Pamela D. Wilson: The last tip, number eight, for successfully living alone and growing old alone: Enjoy life. Love yourself, and most of all, caregivers, engage in self-care. We never do that enough. We can be our own worst critic—we can be our own best cheerleader. Many people view themselves as different and not always in a positive way. We have two sides to our personalities.  There’s that one part that encourages us, and the part that tells us not to try, that we will fail. How do we choose which side wins? Obviously, we want the success side. We want the side us that tells us that we can do anything we want to do.

53:02 Pamela D. Wilson: If we can look back and realize how early life experiences, maybe with our parents or in school or in the workplace, affect us today, we can choose the positive and encouraging side of our mind versus the negative side that we don’t want to encourage. The idea of enjoying life and loving ourselves translates into all parts of our life, including our work and our caregiving lives. Question: Does your company invest in any type of employee training and development programs? How about workplace elder care and wellness programs that are so needed to support 33% of people in the workplace who are working caregivers? Insights into personal behavioral styles, the way that we work with others and the way to manage emotional intelligence can be gained through these employee and caregiving training programs.

54:03 Pamela D. Wilson: Wouldn’t we all like to have more wins in our lives? Including the success of living alone when older. There’s no one right way in life. There are so many ways to be happy. It doesn’t matter if you are single if you are married if you have situations where you are living with friends. I have so many clients in different situations, and most of them didn’t look back. They made their choice and they were happy about where they live today. By becoming aware of the challenges of living alone and taking action early enough, we can create the life we want. Growing old doesn’t have to be sad or depressing. Life is what we make it. You can start today to make your life the best it can be, whether you live with a spouse, partner, children, whether you live alone. Whether you are caregiving and visiting your parents’ home or whether you have taken that plunge and either moved in with your parents or moved your parents in with you.

55:05 Pamela D. Wilson: We want to recognize that one day because of our life circumstances, though, we might all be living alone, and we want to make the best plans that we can for that by being thoughtful today about how we’re going to do it. Because that living alone on your own terms means that you can focus more on what you enjoy and what you want from life. Caregivers, ask for the help, ask for the education that you need from your families in the workplace. Information is on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. You can also join my caregiving group on Facebook, it’s called The Caregiving Trap. Have a fabulous week this week, caregivers, God bless you all, sleep well tonight and have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are here together again.

55:51 Announcer: Tune in each week for The Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson. Come join the conversation and see how Pamela can provide solutions and peace of mind for everyone, here on Pamela D. Wilson’s The Caring Generation.

 

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About Pamela Wilson

PAMELA D. WILSON, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA helps caregivers and aging adults solve caregiving problems and manage caregiving needs through online programs, live support groups, and an extensive caregiving library that includes articles, podcasts, videos, and webinars.

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