Geriatric research describes older adults aging alone as “hidden in plain sight.” That description could not be more accurate. We are not seen. And the reason is because our society applies the classical perception that all of us are married and have children.
That perception could not be further from the truth because not every citizen (close to my age) is married and has offspring. Nor are we divorced with children. Truth is, some of us don’t have offspring because we choice not to, or circumstances didn’t work out for whatever reason.
Plus, some of us have chosen not to marry or stay married.
It’s an inspiring thought that I could change preconcieved ideas and misconceptions. Ha! I have enough trouble keeping mine in check. But I’ll hold that dream.
Where I’d like to see a more advanced concept of older people (also,) is from the service providers and health care professionals who offer solutions to keep us safe, healthy, financially stable, mobile, and independent.
Why It's a Requirement
Several years ago, I started the Elder Orphan Facebook group. We discuss challenges, dreams, wishes, issues, and even fears. The ones that are the toughest are those that leave us vulnerable and at risk. One big risk is coming home after surgery alone without the support of a person, preferably a family member.
Others challenges are reliable transportation options, affordable housing, paying for healthcare and drugs, and other household expenses.
Here's my experience and those of other's in the aging alone segment:
Things to do:
Understand your audience
There’s so much to understand about an audience, especially when marketing. Yes, you need to know our age, our budget, and our needs. However, in addition to all that, learn our intrinsic desires and needs. And how we feel about our circumstances. If you can, give options and suggest how we can gain more control.
For example, in a recent poll I asked, “In the next five to ten years, how do you view your quality of life, including your financial well-being, mental and physical health?”
Quality of Life
As a provider, either for profit or not, I’d want to know why a large number of individuals were not familiar with community resources, whether offered by my company or someone else’s?
And it’s not just the group. I receive countless emails from seniors asking about local resources.
Obviously, health is a top concern. If we don’t have good health, it leads to outlandish risks and issues. Here’s how the group members viewed their health status over the past year.
Affordable Housing Options
The statistics are meant to give senior service providers a better idea of what individuals living alone are up against so that when developing services, you will have a better understanding of the market.
The Facebook group has opened my eyes to the hardships of people 55 and over.
I remain hopeful that technology, housing developers and health care providers will evolve and come up with affordable and sound solutions.
Take these steps:
In the words of Mark Bonchek (Harvard), “Companies that successfully market and sell innovation can shift how people think not only about their product, but about themselves, the market and the world. Don’t sell a product, sell a whole new way of thinking.”
There is reason for optimism. Research shows that the majority of elders want to stay in the workforce, to travel, to learn new skills, find entertainment, stay fit and to connect.