The rise of “elder orphans” has been dramatic in recent years. If you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to individuals who are aging alone, without a spouse or children to depend on for elder care.
In fact, according to a study presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Geriatric Society, around 22% of older adults are elder orphans and considered “at-risk.” This number is expected to rise, presenting unique challenges to this group, including concerns about who will care for them and whether they can remain at home.
Why Are Elder Orphans on the Rise?
There are many reasons behind the increase in the elder orphan population. Some include the rise in the country’s divorce rate, childless marriages and families having fewer children than in past decades. For instance, in 2020 alone, the U.S. birth rate dropped by 4%.
This trend is expected to continue. For instance, an AARP Public Policy report titled “Valuing the Invaluable” stated that there were 7.2 potential family caregivers for every person 80 and older in 2010. That number is projected to fall to 4 for every 1 by 2030 and could sink to 3 to every 1 by 2050.
Other reasons for the expanding elder orphan population include children or spouses passing away, leaving individuals alone. And some individuals simply never married by choice without planning for future elder care or for how to age in place safely.
What Can Elder Orphans Do?
Being alone can cause a deep level of stress for elder orphans as they wonder who will care for them when they need help. What can those without support do?
When it comes to certain issues like legal guardianship, solo agers must have the proper documents in place, including a healthcare proxy and other directives. These documents lay the groundwork for the individual who will take over personal finances and other needs when or if the elder orphan is no longer able to make decisions on their own. It can be a friend, family member or even a legal professional.
There are also support groups available in increasing numbers as this problem is a growing one. For instance, there are private groups on Facebook to support elder orphans. Members can ask questions related to legal and financial issues, elder care, housing, transportation, public policy and more.
If you’re concerned about aging alone, it might be time to consider moving to an assisted living community. There, you’ll be able to live with as much independence as possible. You’ll also be part of a community where you can meet others, socialize and ensure help is always nearby.
If, however, you’re like many individuals and want to age in place at home, a company like FirstLight® Home Care can provide a wide range of elder care services. We can work with you to personalize a plan and schedule that meets your needs and preferences. This way, you can remain where you’re happiest and most comfortable, while also getting the extra support you need.
How Our Elder Care Services Help
Are you moving a little slower these days? Are you having a hard time getting out of bed or bathing on your own? Are you having trouble getting to the grocery store or preparing meals? For many adults over the age of 65, activities like these start to become a challenge. While you cherish your independence and naturally want to take care of yourself, sometimes you need a caregiver to help in certain ways.
At FirstLight Home Care, we can provide the right mix of elder care services. We offer professional and carefully trained caregivers who can help as you navigate this new journey. We can provide non-medical support, such as assistance with bathing and dressing, with mobility, transportation, meal preparation and medication reminders. We can also help with errands and in a range of other ways, so you feel safe and comfortable at home.
Over time, if your needs change, we can adapt our elder care services. We also provide specialized care for those with conditions like dementia. If you’re traveling, one of our caregivers can even serve as a travel companion to help you navigate the airport, hotel and other aspects of your trip.
Whatever your needs, our goal is to improve and enhance your life, so you can enjoy it. With FirstLight Home Care, we’ll become like family, so you never feel alone.
If you’re looking for compassionate and comprehensive elder care services, contact your local FirstLight Home Care today. We can meet your needs with services personalized around your routine, preferences and more.