My boat's a Mull 31 ft - sails and single-hands beautifully - and I'm only 72 for what that's worth
The only things I go forward for are (1) to move my main's'l Cunningham/Reefer up or down onto the appropriate cringle and (2) anchoring. (That's other than racing single-handed when I have to fly the spinnaker!) Everything else goes back to the cockpit.
I use an auto-helm (a/h) and have self tailers on the genoa. I've also conjured up a minor rat's nest of lines and bungie-cord to lock the tiller if the a/h's on the blink for any reason. The a/h will tack me through 90% which is great - once through the tack I fine trim closer to the wind according to conditions.
I usually reef while still sailing - it's not a problem - but I would really recommend practising heaving-to in various wind strengths to find the best setting for sheets and tiller. When I first tried it, I was astonished how the boat quietens down and suddenly the emergency, if there is one, looks and becomes a lot easier to fix! Somebody's already said "reef in time" - always a golden rule - it's a darn sight easier to shake it out if not needed than take in when you've left it too late!
S/H'ing is magic - I use the opportunity to practice on my organ
! I'll rephrase that - my harmonica