Backup Plan for Solos

Supported Health-Care Decision Making for People Aging Alone

“I do not have a plan but realize I need to do this. I do not have an advance directive nor have I spoken about these issues with others, including friends. I am an ostrich with my head in the sand.”

– Solos Task Force Personal Interview

As people age, they often need assistance with health care decisions. Historically, family members have provided such assistance. It is not always clear who can and will be available to assist those aging alone or to serve as their health decision agents if they cannot speak for themselves. Without a plan or a supportive infrastructure, “solos” are at risk for lack of care, sub-optimal care, or care that goes against their wishes.

The Citizens League has recognized health care decision making by and for solos as an important public policy issue and a timely subject for study. To that end, in the fall of 2016, the Citizen League formed a partnership with the Minnesota Elder Justice Center to work on this issue. With financial support from a Bush Foundation Community Innovations grant, these Partners convened a 14-member, multi-disciplinary Task Force. They challenged the Task Force to discover, analyze, and make recommendations directed at the following overarching goal:

Stimulate the development of a supportive infrastructure to help solo adults, particularly older solo adults, successfully navigate health-related events and, therefore, be less likely to become vulnerable adults—with its accompanying loss of self-determination for the individual and high costs to society.

For purposes of this project, Task Force members employed the following working definition of solos: “Individuals who, by choice or circumstance, function without the support system traditionally provided by family.”

Over twelve-months, the group studied existing laws, policies, and practices. They also engaged in detailed discussions with individuals from legal, medical, social work, business, and volunteer sectors. In addition, Task Force members gathered information directly from solos through a series of personal interviews and two focus groups of solos from diverse communities.

In February 2019, the task force released it’s final report:

Final Report

A Backup Plan for Solos: Health Care Decision Making for People Aging Alone

Any questions and feedback? Email [email protected] to learn more.

This project is made possible by the generous support from The Bush Foundation.

Meeting Materials & Minutes

September 12, 2018
August 14, 2018
July 17, 2018
June 12, 2018
May 15, 2018
April 10, 2018
March 13, 2018
February 13, 2018
December 12, 2017
November 21, 2017
November 7, 2017
October 24, 2017
September 27, 2017

Project Updates

Read project updates from Solos task force member Patty Thorsen. Patty is a member of the Transportation Accessibility Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Council.

Solo Seniors: Evaluating Existing Resources

The focus of the next month for task force members is to identify and evaluate the quality and usefulness of information resources that help individuals to develop a backup plan for senior solos.