Future Planning 101: A Comprehensive Guide for Solo Agers

Why Senior Living?   |   By HumanGood

older man outside petting his golden retriever

We all want the chance to construct lives of our choosing and to remain as independent as possible as long as possible. A new generation of solo agers is rewriting the script, growing older without spouses, partners or other family members with whom they must share decision-making. Some never married or had children. Others have lost their spouses, or even their children. 

And while it’s true that aging on your own can be lonely, it can also be empowering and exciting. Maybe that’s why it’s increasingly common — solo agers now comprise 12% of the population who are 50 or older. While some ended up here as divorcees, widows or widowers, many have happily chosen this path. As aging norms change and more older adults remain vibrant and independent well into their 80s and beyond, the number of solo agers will likely increase.

While you might live alone in your home, you’re certainly not alone in your aging choices. There's an entire world of independent-minded solo agers just like you. In fact, connecting with peers may be one of the best possible strategies for aging well. 

Your future planning needs are a little different from those of people in marriages or other long-term relationships. Avoiding loneliness is key, and so is having a plan for independently supporting yourself. Here are our tips for making the most of every stage of the aging journey


Social and Emotional Connections 

Just as having a long-term partner is no guarantee of long-term support, living by yourself doesn’t preclude building a rich, interconnected network of chosen family. Social connections take time and skill to build. The investment, though, is well worth it. 

Research consistently shows that it’s not eating the right foods, making a ton of money or having the right career that guarantees happiness. Instead, rich social connections are the single most important ingredient in the recipe for a happy, healthy life. 

Here are a few tips for fostering social and emotional connections:

  • Get good at communication, relationship repair, empathy and supporting others. To have a good friend, after all, you have to be one first. 

  • Make it easier to make friends by getting out and about, living in an active neighborhood and avoiding isolated neighborhoods with low access to transportation and community events. 

  • Get to know the people you live near. Your neighbors may be the first people to show up in the event of a crisis. 

  • Prioritize your friendships. You can love your friends as much as you might love a spouse, but friendships only become close with time, meaningful connection and mutual care. 

  • Practice stepping out of your comfort zone. Chat up the quiet neighbor next door or the barista who seems nice but shy. It gives you the warm boost that reaching out to others so often brings, and it can help you build new relationships in unlikely places. 

HumanGood Relationships Ebook


Your home is more than just a place to lay your head or launch the next act of your life. It determines how easy it is to get together with loved ones and can heavily influence your access to new relationships, events, walkable spaces and more. Location matters, now and forever. As you age, though, the meaning of a good location may shift. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you consider where to live next: 

  • Do you live near loved ones or friends, or do you feel isolated in your current home? 

  • Is your neighborhood an engaging, active place? Or is it hard to make friends there? 

  • Can you afford your current home on a fixed income? 

  • How does the work of homeownership affect your daily life? Are you enjoying it, or is it becoming a source of stress? If your health or daily needs change, could your home become a burden? 

  • Do you have any health conditions that might necessitate changes to your home, such as installing ramps? Is there a history of such conditions in your family? 

  • If you could change one thing about your current living situation, what would it be? 

  • Have you explored the potential benefits of a Life Plan Community, which includes numerous amenities, engaging community activities, a safe and lovely home, and maintenance-free living in one price tag? 


Safety and Support 

Even if you’re aging alone, you don’t have to be alone. Living alone does pose some logistical challenges, though. Who will help you if you have an emergency? Who will you lean upon should you need ongoing care or support? People with partners often have the benefit of support from a loved one, but solo agers typically have to recruit friends or pay for support. 

A plan that considers these challenges is crucial. Some factors to weigh include: 

  • Balancing cost savings with quality care. 

  • Cultivating a plan for emergencies such as falls. 

  • Ensuring you can still get lots of socialization and do the things you love — even if your health declines a bit. 


Health Care and Long-Term Care Planning

Access to quality health care can help you live longer and better. But who wants to spend all day driving back and forth to the doctor’s office? Having a clinic you trust nearby and access to a major hospital system reduces stress, improves peace of mind and guarantees access to quality care. 

If you’re living in an isolated or rural area, you may have to travel to see your doctor. Weigh the benefits of your current living situation against the potentially immense stress of this frequent back-and-forth. Some other factors to look at include: 

  • Is there a nearby region with better doctors or someone who specializes in a health condition you have? 

  • What about other health care services, such as physical therapy or massage? Can you access complementary care when you need it? 

  • What are you doing daily to take care of your health? Do you have a gym membership? Access to walkable trails? Are you confident in your ability to prepare healthy, delicious meals? 

  • How is your living situation affecting your mental health? Mental and physical health are inextricably linked. 


Legal and Financial Considerations 

You don’t need a huge, sprawling estate to have assets worthy of protection. If you have a home, family heirlooms, savings or even a pet, it’s important to plan for their future — especially if you have no heirs. 

Schedule a meeting with an estate attorney and a financial planner to discuss your options. Then, consider revisiting these options annually as your needs change. Some things to discuss include: 

  • What can you do to protect your assets as you age? Will you be eligible for any additional services to help fund in-home care or senior living if you need them? 

  • How could senior living affect estate planning? 

  • Do you need to shift the allocation of your investments when you retire? 

  • Do you have enough to live on, and what can you do to make your money last as long as possible? 

  • Do you have a health care proxy? Who should you appoint to help you if you’re unable to make decisions for yourself? 

  • What are your end-of-life preferences, and how can you make these clear? 

  • Who do you want to leave any assets you have to? 


Solo Agers: Building a Life You Love at Every Stage 

Life happens quickly, with changes often appearing before you can anticipate them. Each new stage poses opportunities as well as challenges. A comprehensive plan is critical to help you prepare for whatever comes next. 

A Life Plan Community could help you reduce expenses, live healthier and cultivate a rich and meaningful sense of loving community. Learn more in our free guide.

The complete guide to life plan communities.

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