If aging in place is important to you, it pays to plan ahead for in-home care. That’s particularly true for individuals at risk of becoming “elder orphans,” defined as seniors without spouses or children to care for them as they age.

Without the safety net of family to fall back on, elder orphans need to be proactive when planning for the future. In retirement, day-to-day activities that most of us take for granted can become difficult — or even impossible — to perform without assistance. By planning ahead for in-home care, elder orphans can ensure that assistance is available when these challenges arise.

If you’re an elder orphan yourself or at risk of becoming one, here’s how you should prepare for in-home care and other aspects of aging in place.

In-Home Care Tips for Elder Orphans

  • Start with how you want to spend your golden years. Before taking any further steps, elder orphans who wish to age in place should take stock of what that looks like. Do you wish to continue living in your current residence? Do you plan on moving to a different part of the country? Are you going to be downsizing? What kind of activities will make up your daily and weekly routine?
  • Research challenges that could make aging in place difficult. Now that you have a strong sense of how you wish to live, start thinking about all of the challenges that could make this difficult. Speak with your doctor about any physical or cognitive health concerns you need to be mindful of, and research common age-related health concerns, like limited mobility, arthritis, and cognitive decline. How would these conditions impact your ability to live independently?
  • Find strategies and services to help you overcome these obstacles. Once you’ve catalogued all of the age-related difficulties you might face, research different ways you can make these difficulties more manageable. Build a social support network so that you aren’t aging without a safety net. Research the availability of local senior services in your area, including senior transportation, senior housekeeping, and in-home care services.
  • Prepare your home and finances. Aging in place successfully requires financial stability, along with a safe and supportive home environment. Try to be as proactive as possible in terms of care costs. Speak with a financial advisor about how you will pay for in-home care and other senior services. Meanwhile, start making changes to your home that will ensure your health, safety, and security. Make your home more senior-friendly by making key areas more accessible and by fall-proofing areas like bathrooms, stairways, and walkways.
  • Develop relationships and assign responsibility. As an elder orphan, you will need to plan ahead for worst-case scenarios. Cognitive decline could leave you unable to make decisions about who your caregivers are and how in-home care is provided. Reach out to local care agencies to find an in-home care provider you’re comfortable with. Create a written plan for how you wish to be cared for, establish power of attorney with someone you trust, and take care of any necessary paperwork.