If you didn’t know otherwise, you might have thought that DOROT’s six-part virtual workshop this summer, Aging Alone, Together, on life planning for solo agers, featured a million-dollar giveaway. A full house logged on every Wednesday night, eagerly awaiting discussion on what could be considered a difficult topic.
Designed specifically for solo agers – individuals who by choice or circumstance function without the support system traditionally provided by a family – the series struck a chord for many people living alone or who have a spouse and children but identified as solo agers.
“I’m a perfect example of a solo ager,” said Marsha Cohen, longtime DOROT volunteer and co-facilitator of the series. “I’m a Boomer – 75, healthy, worked all my life and live comfortably alone. I consider myself as smart as the next person, but I have not taken the time to plan for the future. Too busy doing other things – like volunteering for DOROT.”
The workshop covered topics ranging from end-of-life and health care choices to aging in place versus making a move. Each week featured a video followed by a lively discussion in small group “breakthrough” sessions.
The workshop has three mantras: 1) It’s never too early; it’s not too late 2) You are not alone and 3) Take charge of your aging, or it will take charge of you. “As long as we kept those three mantras in the forefront of our awareness, we were able to get through some of the more challenging aspects of the topics discussed,” said Marsha.
In addition to providing practical information, the series allowed participants to connect with kindred souls in the breakout sessions. One participant summed it up this way: “Every topic was presented in an easily digestible format. The workshop had a real community feel.”
What began as a summer workshop has evolved into a continuing commitment from DOROT to support and address all facets of the solo aging process. With the overwhelming demand, DOROT created additional programs including a presentation with the Aging Life Care Association, a home organizing/decluttering session and a session on housing issues. DOROT is also presenting the Aging Alone, Together workshop this fall in conjunction with SAGE, the national organization of LGBTQ elders, with support from UJA Federation.
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Aging Alone, Together was presented in conjunction with Temple Emanuel, Iona Senior Services and Rodeph Sholom.