Contributing to your 401(k) is important when preparing for retirement. In addition, many people begin researching exciting things like the best cities for retirement. On the other hand, there are “not so fun” topics we should all consider like planning for care as you age. Especially if you don’t have children who can provide care. Elder orphans are seniors who live with no spouse, children, and little other support. They can be extremely vulnerable. But regardless of whether you have children or family who can care for you, planning in advance is key. It may not be the most exciting topic to contemplate, but it will surely benefit you in the long run.

This U.S. News article explains just how important planning for care as you age is. Being an elder orphan as you age is extremely risky. You would have no one committed to making sure you have groceries, meals, medications, and your bills are paid. Poor social supports and isolation can also lead to earlier declines in health.

So how does one go about planning for care? The first step is planning where you will live. This may ultimately change due to a variety of factors as you age. But researching options such as retirement communities, assisted livings, and caregiver agencies is a great place to start. In addition, being aware of local services like transportation and food delivery is important.

Next, put together your team. Durable power of attorney and health care proxy are good people to identify first. Then, you should  get legal documents created by a professional. This can all be very confusing. But social workers and licensed fiduciaries like Arizona Elder Care are very knowledgeable on these topics. We can guide you in the right direction.

So now that you have your team and paperwork in order, what’s the next step? Another vital step to planning for care is to build your community. It doesn’t matter if it’s at synagogue or church, yoga class, or taking walks with neighbors. But having these people to count on will certainly benefit you both now and later. Maintaining social connections throughout middle and late life is crucial to both our mental and physical health. Planning for care as you age may not be as exciting as picking the first vacation you’ll take after retirement. Yet having a plan will help create the golden years you want and deserve.