Sara Zeff Geber, Ph.D., is a distinguished professional speaker on retirement and aging, an accomplished author, and the nation’s foremost leading authority on Solo Aging. As a Fellow at Nexus Insights, she has made significant contributions to the field of aging and retirement planning. Dr. Geber is credited with coining the term “Solo Ager,” which has now become the industry standard, and she has authored the influential book, “Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers.” Her work is focused on raising awareness about the unique needs of Solo Agers and providing a more comprehensive approach to planning. Over the past decade, she has been on a personal crusade, engaging with gerontologists, elder-law attorneys, senior living professionals, financial planners, healthcare providers, policy-makers, developers, and others involved in shaping the aging landscape in America.
Next Best Home: Dr. Geber, can you tell us more about your partnership with Senior Living Communities and how you collaborate with them to address the needs of Solo Agers?
Dr. Geber: Absolutely. When I work with Senior Living Communities, I typically engage with their sales and marketing professionals to co-create events that raise awareness and promote successful planning for Solo Agers. My focus is to educate prospective residents of these communities about the fact that approximately 20% of Baby Boomer women don’t have children, and many others have estranged families or family members living at a distance. These demographics create unique needs and require tailored support and services.
Next Best Home: It’s fascinating how you’re making an impact through these partnerships. Who typically attends your presentations, and what motivates them to learn more about Solo Aging?
Dr. Geber: The individuals who attend my presentations are usually a mix of people who are curious about the concept of Solo Agers and those who are generally concerned about their future and the potential lack of support. Many of them grapple with questions like, “Who is going to take care of me in the future?” and “What systems or plans do I need to put in place?” It also includes individuals who don’t want to burden their children with their care needs.
Next Best Home: It sounds like a win-win for both Solo Agers and Senior Living Communities. Can these events serve as a way for attendees to explore senior housing options?
Dr. Geber: Absolutely, these events are a great opportunity for people to gain a sense of senior housing options and what they offer. For many attendees, it might be their first exposure to this concept, and they often go on to tour the communities and explore the possibilities.
Next Best Home: Your approach seems different from placement agencies and online lead generators. What are your thoughts on these alternative approaches to finding senior housing?
Dr. Geber: I have reservations about placement agencies and online lead generators. When you use an agency, you may lose your agency in the sense that national companies can be quite aggressive and might not provide you with all the information and options available. It’s essential for individuals to have a comprehensive understanding of their choices.
Next Best Home: Some companies advertise “FREE placement.” What’s your take on this, and how does it impact seniors and their families?
Dr. Geber: I don’t consider these services as free at all. It’s essentially a pass-through charge to seniors and their families. This, in turn, contributes to the rising costs of senior housing. It’s crucial for individuals to be aware of the widespread financial implications of such services.
Next Best Home: What other advice do you have for individuals who want to stay in control of their own choices as they age?
Dr. Geber: It’s imperative to have an advanced directive and a Power of Attorney (POA) for finances in place. Equally important is to have open conversations with the person you name as your POA to ensure they are aware of your wishes and are prepared to act accordingly. I also emphasize the need for interdependent solutions, as aging in place can carry great risks for solo agers.
Next Best Home: You mentioned “aging in place.” Could you elaborate on the risks associated with this concept and share your thoughts on active aging communities?
Dr. Geber: Aging in place is remaining in your current home. While this can be a viable option for some, there are risks involved in doing so without considering interdependent solutions. I advocate for active aging communities, not specifically promoting any one community but rather encouraging the idea of a community-based approach. I also discuss alternative options like co-housing and mobile homes, emphasizing the importance of planning for interdependent and supportive systems.
Dr. Sara Zeff Geber’s work is a testament to her commitment to enhancing the quality of life for Solo Agers and reshaping the way we think about aging and retirement. Her insights and expertise are invaluable in addressing the unique needs of this demographic and promoting a more comprehensive approach to planning for later life.