Elder Orphans

I recently saw an episode on the PBS Newshour that talked about the increasing number of families who now support their elderly parents. Many of us Baby Boomers are now, or will soon be approaching the times when we can no longer adequately care for ourselves. For those fortunate enough, the kids/grandkids will invite them into their homes.

Almost twenty years ago I did the same thing for my mother. Even though she had abandoned me at the age of nine I, unlike my two siblings, felt a responsibility to care for her. She lived with us for almost three years before her needs outpaced our ability to provide. I continued to take care of her as her legal guardian until she passed.

It is nice that families are graciously accepting their parents into their homes, but what about those of us without children? I didn’t know we had a name until I came across this article below.

I first heard the term “elder orphan” a few years ago. Typically, it refers to seniors who are aging alone. They have no spouse or partner, and no children to step into the role of caregiver.

AARP recently estimated that 20 percent of the aging population, or 8.6 million people older than 65, are now “orphans” or at risk of becoming an elder orphan. By 2050, this number will mushroom to 16 million or higher

Source: The Gainesville Sun

My wife and I are elder orphans and that is kind of a scary thing. Who will do for me what I did for my mother? With no one available to depend on for health crisis or even occasional daily needs, we do kinda feel like orphans. Do we need to hire a lawyer as our legal guardian when the time comes or is their another alternative? I have put this topic off for too long now.

I guess there are organizations already in place, such as the ones shown in the featured image above and below. Wouldn’t you know that there is even a website www.ElderOrphanCare.com  It’s nice to know they we are not alone with this problem?

Are you an Elder Orphan?


6 thoughts on “Elder Orphans

  • If you have money, you can buy into a continuing care community. They are growing in strength in the West. They will follow your wishes as you have money.
    The Little Sisters of the Poor have been doing this mission for as long as I can remember. Many Christian organizations walk this walk. I saw Islamic organizations doing the same in the Middle East. The Buddhist monks took in elders, giving them the time to pray and taking care of them. I know that my mother’s family cared for elderly neighbors.

    There are options, finding them early, identifying them and joining seems to be the key.

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  • For seniors with assets who do we trust with complete access to our financial assets? It would need to be someone that would exercise a fiduciary oversight. There would not likely be anyone reviewing their decisions. The potential for massive fraud is huge. If baby boomers live long enough a large number will need this help.

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  • I could trust my sister with my financial assets, but she is older than me. I also have trustworthy friends a few years younger. It is a difficult decision even if you have children. Sometimes you can’t trust your children.

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    • I guess that is true Donna, sometimes you can’t trust even your children. I have two brothers but haven’t seen either one of them for 18 years and that was only for a day visit to them. So,….

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