By Patty Thorsen

Patty Thorsen is a part of the Citizens League’s Backup Plan for Solo Seniors task force, an 18-month study on the challenges many individuals face as they age alone. As the project move forward, Patty will be updating followers of the project with a periodic blog post. Patty is a member of the Transportation Accessibility Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Council.

Projections are that by 2030, one in five individuals will be 65 or older.  Part of that demographic includes “senior solos”—individuals who, by choice or circumstance, are single.  Central to the lives of all senior solos is how to navigate the healthcare system without the traditional family support system with which the healthcare system presumes healthcare decision-making process is conducted.

The Citizens League is addressing this matter in its most recent task force—A Backup Plan for Solos.  Unique to this project, its proceedings and end product may serve to benefit both the community as a whole, and individuals who follow the task force proceedings.  Different individuals may be at different places in establishing how to address the healthcare decision-making process regarding health issues in later life, and at end-of-life.  The Citizens League is teaming up with Minnesota Elder Justice Center.  The Backup Plan for Solos task force is comprised of 15 individuals who have a variety of experience and expertise.  A number of solos are serving on the task force.

The end product of the Backup Plan for Solos task force’s work will include:

  • Profiles of solos to build understanding of characteristics, needs, and barriers.
  • A description of the current infrastructure relevant to health-care decision making by/for solos, including identification of gaps and best practices.
  • Core elements of a backup plan for personal health and well-being and other tools to help solos plan for themselves.
  • A list of potential solutions to address unmet needs and infrastructure gaps.
  • Priorities for future action and work plan to implement solutions