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Director's Message

November 2012 - Going Solo

After last month’s message, someone asked me what a person who is alone should do without a spouse and without heirs. Then a friend talked about not wanting to burden her son with her care, and a caregiver described being effectively single and knowing she would outlive her partner. I can’t write about this from personal experience, but these moments really got me thinking about how many parts of planning for the future are altered for people who are alone, and how very important it is to plan. The birth of another column!


 In 2010, only 42% of women and 72% of men age 65+ were married.    About 5% were never married, many are divorced or widowed.  Going Alone, by Eric Kleinenberg, states that more than 50% of American adults are now single, a growing choice which is changing our culture.  His research indicates that rather than being lonely and isolated, singles are very engaged in social and civic life.   People who are single are introducing exciting new models for living, including house-sharing and co-housing communities. Many are content to be alone.  Whether you have been single for a long or short time, you need to have an appropriate plan in place, as should everyone.

It is a fact that many people will outlive their spouses.  Losing a spouse (to death, dementia or other chronic illness) is a turning point when you should re-evaluate your plan.  What is the best living situation for you? Who will your care team be?  Some people do not want to (or know they can’t) rely on adult children who are raising young children, working, or live at a distance.  Do you have friends, relatives, a faith community or another network , and how much can you realistically ask of them?   It might be a good idea to engage a care manager who can get to know you now, then be ready to step in if you have a crisis or need services, either short- or long-term. 

You should also designate someone you trust as your power of attorney for health and legal decisions.   This person does not need to be a family member, but should be someone you can talk to extensively about your wishes and with whom you will have ongoing contact as your life unfolds.  I also recommend choosing someone as a healthcare partner, to drive to and sit in on important doctor visits, be your hospital advocate, and who has your signed permission to discuss your care with the doctors (even when you are of sound mind).

If you have no heirs, it is important to think about what you want to do with your assets.  This includes your home, material goods and financial resources.  Update the beneficiaries on your policies (life insurance, IRA, etc).  Are there special items that might be treasured by a friend, neighbor or relative?  Do you want to leave something to your caregivers?  How about a bequest to your college or favorite charities?  You can also set aside funds for a memorial concert, event, or other celebration in your honor.  This is a great opportunity to create a lasting legacy. Talk to a financial planner about setting up a charitable remainder trust which gives you income for your lifetime as well as a gift to the organization of your choice. These instructions must be written down so they can be followed.  When you do not designate beneficiaries, the State will determine who benefits according to specific laws which may not reflect your intentions.

A related aspect is what happens to your “stuff.”  If you have no heirs, a stranger may sort and dispose of your stuff.  You can start going through it now, making a list or labeling the things you want to give away and where they go.  Better yet, give them now so you can hear the recipient’s appreciation!  The mug with the butterfly on it should go to the niece who always looked for it when she visited, and the antique tools to the living history farm, not to the flea market or dumpster.

All of these recommendations are best practices for anyone, but it is especially important for someone who is alone to be sure you have plans for all aspects of your future so you can enjoy it without worry.


Susan W Hoskins LCSW

Executive Director

Previous Messages

October 2017: HomeFriends Celebrates 30 Years!

September 2017: Annual Report

July/August 2017: Preferred Caregivers: Daughters

June 2017: Cues & Clues

May 2017: Recharging

April 2017: GrandPals Celebrate 20 Years!

March 2017: Multi-generational Households

February 2017: No One Ages Well Alone

January 2017: Help at Home

December 2016: Gratitude

November 2016: Family Caregiving

October 2016: Annual Report

September 2016: Corporate Healthcare

July/ August 2016: Strategic Planning

June 2016: Is Your Home Age- Friendly?

May 2016 Part 2 : We Need Your Help

May 2016 Part 1: Going Solo

April 2016: Volunteering

March 2016: Partners In Caring

February 2016: PSRC's Strategic Plan

January 2016: Hope

December 2015: Gratitude

November 2015: Helicopter Children

October 2015: Is Princeton An Age Friendly Community?

September 2015: Annual Report

July & August 2015: Family and Community

June 2015: A Gift that Keeps Giving

May 2015: Is 60 the New 40

April 2015: Spring

March 2015: On Being Mortal

February 2015: Mentoring

January 2015: Winter Blues

December 2014 - Leaving A Legacy

October 2014 An Age Friendly Future

September 2014 Annual Report

July - August 2014

June 2014 - Romance After 50

May 2014 - Your Virtual Estate

April 2014 - Memory and Forgetting

March 2014 - Aging in Community

Observational Stay

February 2014 - Family Caregiving

January 2014: Attitudes about Aging

December 2013 - Giving

November 2013 - Healthcare Marketplace

October 2013 - Annual Report 2013

September 2013 - Total Brain Health® Fair

July - August 2013 My cat, My Father and Me

June 2013 - Age Friendly Communities

May 2013 - Navigating a Changing HealthCare Landscape

April 2013 - Becoming Visible

March 2013 - Navigating Life’s Transitions

February 2013 - Partners in Caring Princeton

January 2013 - Men as Caregivers

December 2012 - The Safety Net

November 2012 - Going Solo

October 2012 - Documenting Your History

September 2012 - A Journey of Transformation

July - August 2012 - Gratitude & Moving

June 2012 - Diversity

May 2012- Aging in America


March 2012 - Patient-centered Care

February 2012 - Can you Spare an Hour?

January 2012 - Challenges & Opportunities

December - Are you Prepared for Emergencies?

November - We need YOU!

October - Chocolate for Memory

September- Looking Back and Looking Forward

July - August 2011; Ageism

June 2011 - Accessibility

May 2011 - Paper retention

Knit Wits, April 2011

Lessons and Legacies, March 2011

Independent Living February 2011

Home Safety January 2011

Witness to my Life December 2010

Elections, benefits and open enrollment November 2010

Retire in 3D!

Strategic Planning September 2010

Am I Old? July 2010

Memory Clutter June 2010

Aging In America May 2010

Volunteering April 2010

Spirituality March 2010

Estate Planning February 2010

Encore Careers January 2010

Hiring Home Care December 2009

Annual Giving by Sharon Naeole November 2009

Flu Pandemic 2009 October 2009

Healthy Memory, Healthy Mind September 2009

A Personal Perspective on Caregiving July/August 2009


Wei Ji: Crisis, Danger and Opportunity April 2009

Write your own obituary March 2009

Hobbies February 2009

Hope and Vision in Challenging Times
January 2009

Medicare Changes 2008: Take A Look! December 2008

Scams, Frauds and Rip-offs November 2008

Engaged Retirement: Beyond Financial Planning October 2008

September 2008 Caregiver Dilemmas

Finding Rhythm and Purpose July/August 2008

Spring Cleaning II June 2008

V + OA = ER (Volunteering + Older Americans=Engaged Retirement)May 2008

Spring Cleaning April 2008

Have You Had the Talk Yet? March 2008

Get Moving with FitRhythms™! February 2008

My Condolences January 2008

Advocacy December 2007

What Are Social Services? November 2007

Sensitive Topics October 2007

Plan for the Future September 2007

The Up-side of Aging Summer 2007

Volunteering June 2007

Strategic Plan May 2007

National Conference on Aging: Let's ReThink Aging April 2007

Brain Health March 2007

Resiliency February 2007

Transportation January 2007

Season of Giving December 2006

Medicare Part D November 2006

April Hill McElroy October 2006

Civic Engagement September 2006

Change June 2006

White House Conference on Aging May 2006

Hearing Loss April 2006

GrandPals March 2006

Lets Talk February 2006

Eldertopia January 2006

Hoarding December 2005

Annual Report: November 2005

Are You Prepared? October 2005

Planning Ahead October 2005

Watch Your Language September 2005

Medicare Part D Summer 2005

Sue Tillett June 2005

The End of the Journey May 2005

Clutter March 2005

New Dietary Guidelines February 2005

Transitions January 2005

Funding December 2004

Caregiving November 2004

Civic Engagement with GrandPals October 2004

A New Look September 2004

Safe Driving Summer 2004

Food Safety June 2004

Communication June 2004

The Challenge of Giving Care May 2004

Seniors On The Move April 2004

Depression March 2004

McGreevey February 2004

Medications January 2004

Random Acts of Kindness December 2003

Civic Engagement November 2003

Reverse Mortgages Oct 2003

Emergency Preparedness, Jan 2003

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