Our Guest Editor: A Solo Ager on Solo Aging

Guest Editor Sara Zeff Geber, who holds a doctorate in Organizational Behavior and Counseling and is a nationally recognized expert on the topic of Solo Aging, approached this issue of Generations Journal from a personal vantage point, and because of that, so did many of the other authors. The articles are emotionally insightful and refreshingly accessible. Geber is also pragmatic, low-maintenance, and fun to work with.

She worked for years as a management consultant, then made a later life career switch to retirement coaching, writing for outlets such as Forbes and Next Avenue, and publicly speaking on retirement and aging.

In 2018 Geber wrote the book Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers: A Retirement and Aging Roadmap for Single and Childless Adults (Mango Press), which was selected by the Wall Street Journal as one of the “2018 best books on aging well,” and garnered her the coveted “Influencer in Aging” designation by PBS’s Next Avenue. Currently, she said, the book is on track to sell 10,000 copies by the end of 2023.

Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers also launched Geber’s most recent career evolution as an expert speaker and writer on Solo Aging. It has become her “mission in life, to raise awareness about the growing numbers of Solo Agers in America today,” she said.

“I am a Solo Ager myself, which was the original motivation for writing and speaking about this challenge. Although I’m married, my husband and I do not have children or geographically close family,” Geber said. “One of us will be widowed, eventually, so we are both walking the talk and preparing as Solo Agers.”

These days, Geber gets the word out about the impending Solo Aging challenge mainly via speaking engagements at professional conferences and meetings, as well as the occasional senior center or other venues where older adults gather. During the pandemic years, she spent a lot of time doing presentations online, and is immensely grateful to be back in front of live audiences again.

Career-oriented for most of her life, Geber has many, mostly women, friends who are child-free, and the majority of them live alone. “I have a strong desire for my work to benefit them,” she added.

In 2020, Geber was invited to become a fellow with Nexus Insights, a think tank advancing the well-being of older adults through innovative models of housing, community, and healthcare.

“In this role,” she said, “I am among an elite group of thought leaders in the field who constantly inspire me.”

Editing this issue of Generations Journal was yet another way to get her crucial message across to a new set of readers. Geber believes everyone needs to realize the extent of Solo Aging and the impact it can have on the United States, and other Westernized countries. There will be a huge need for people to fill in where caregivers such as spouses and children have traditionally played a role. The key takeaway from many of these articles is the critical importance of planning ahead, and what that looks like in many different spheres, whether it be healthcare, caregiving, finances or end-of-life.

“I’m hoping these stories of Solo Agers from all walks of life will educate those in the fields of elder care and gerontology as to the dramatic rise in numbers of Solo Agers in the Baby Boom generation.

“With the oldest boomers turning 77 this year, we are just seeing the beginning of this monumental challenge. It is so timely of Generations Journal to address Solo Aging this year,” Geber added.

We couldn’t agree more, and hope readers take in all these stories and learn as much from them as I did.

Alison Biggar is ASA’s Editorial Director.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/ oneinchpunch