Strategies for reducing isolation among solo agers – an interview with Sara Zeff Geber
Sara Zeff Geber, an expert in solo aging and a Nexus Insights Fellow, noticed something interesting. A lot of Baby Boomers were spending a lot of time, resources, and money taking care of their aging parents. And it occurred to her to wonder, for childless seniors like herself, “Who’s going to do that for us?”
That question launched a new line of research for her, and ultimately led to her book, Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers.
Zeff Geber was interviewed recently by Dr. Namrata Bagaria and Dr. Paul Merkley of Seniors Junction on their podcast “Ending Seniors’ Isolation, One Conversation at a Time.” The two asked Zeff Geber for her insights into reducing isolation and loneliness for solo agers.
Among the many insights she shared:
- Solo aging is becoming more common. “Almost 20% of Baby Boomer women didn’t have kids.”
- Everyone, even married couples, should plan as if they will be solo agers. “One spouse will almost always pre-decease the other, and you don’t have a crystal ball.”
- “The research shows that isolation and loneliness are more deadly to us than 15 cigarettes a day,” said Zeff Geber. The most important thing, she suggested, is to build and maintain a social network.
- As Bagaria points out, “Paul and I have learned on our journey that some people are naturally proactive about connecting and building a network and some have to pick up that skill.” Said Zeff Geber, “Learn to be a joiner; find a group that interests you; it could be a golf club, a book club, a dog-lovers group, or a similar-minded group at your church or synagogue”