by Carol Marak, Aging Advocate, Seniorcare.com
Most of us put off planning for retirement and the golden years, and some never get around to it. In 2015, AARP reported that individuals should save $1 million to $1.5 million, or at least 10 to 12 times your current income, in order to enjoy your golden years. Common sense reminds you that the earlier you start saving, the sooner the nest egg will accomplish what you want.
But beyond the “saving money” for retirement issues, there are other concerns adults should think about and plan for before it’s too late. And it’s these concerns I want to highlight.
Most people have epiphanies about their retirement during the time of giving care to older parents. Up to that point, little effort and consideration about the golden years is usually given.
When family caregivers help with challenges like medical treatments, health and financial decisions, and give assistance with daily routines and doing house chores, it’s a startling wake up call, especially for those who have no spouse, partner, or adult children to rely on. And there are a lot of people who fall into this category, me included.
What I’ve learned through research is the vast majority of women in the United States still have children. But, in 2017, the measure of fertility, the number of births for every 1,000 women of childbearing age, was 60.2, a record low. The total fertility rate — which estimates how many children women will have based on current patterns — is down to 1.8, below the replacement level in developed countries of 2.1.
That’s when the closed Facebook group launched. I wanted to know how many others fit the description and if they’ve planned for the future.
After two and half years of managing and participating in the group, I’m convinced by creating dynamic local groups for sharing, cooking, entertainment, get-togethers, and health classes, women and men would be a lot happier, more active and significantly empowered.
The Potential Issues Individuals Aging Alone Encounter
Recently, In the closed Facebook group, a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, Arlington, School of Social Work conducted research for her dissertation, of which over 500 members participated. From that, we discovered surprising preliminary data of what older individuals encounter.
- 78% have no help with bills, financial decisions
- 55% have no help with medical decisions
- 70% have not identified a would-be caregiver
- 35% have no help in a crisis
- 43% have not selected a healthcare proxy
- 52% think they are likely to experience discrimination
When feeling alone, disconnected, and lonely, individuals can attest that these promote depression. And when sadness affects their mood and they feel down, it’s difficult to get motivated to exercise, cook healthy foods, socialize and participate in activities.
What’s missing for many are support and connections.
How to build a community of support
In several local areas, a subgroup of the Facebook members come together to help one another. They fill the role of family for one another by sharing rides to medical appointments, meet for lunch, call one another if lonely, take walks, and even share skills. Most local groups meet once monthly to bond. And outside the group events, they help one another out.
Several members in San Diego formed a subgroup and offer daily help when needed and even agreed to be legal guardians for one another.
No matter the age, what we all need is support and to have someone to count on. What’s even better is knowing we’re not alone.