It's a rhetorical question. If you ask members in the Elder Orphan Facebook group, you'll likely hear, "Duh, of course, the single and unassisted older individuals may be similar in many ways to the married or unmarried with adult children, however, our needs are quite distinct.
The most glaring one is having another person to count on. Even if the individual is widowed, and has offspring, in the back of her mind, she can count on a daughter or son to step up. However, sometimes, even a Mother can't count on a daughter or son.
Research says, those living alone are hidden in plain sight, and professionals in the aging industry don't see us at all.
For me, I think my life is very different than an attached counterpart because I have no one to rely on to "talk things over," like health concerns, needing rides, and taking care of me if I get sick. Nor do I have another's help, a partner, with paying expenses, property taxes, rent or mortgage. Furthermore, someone with an adult child or family member, have a high chance of getting help if one needed it. Most family members rally if a parent receives a cancer diagnosis, or had a stroke or a broken hip.
There is a difference between having kids out there somewhere and having none.
How others experience the difference
The point is clear. We have frustrations, true. I could argue that services do exist for most needs. To name a few:
Transportation - Uber and Lyft. And Uber has come up with a solution for rides to medical tests with the new Uber Health.
Affordable housing - Silvernest and other shared housing matching services are now available. But what about Assisted Living communities? Can we access residential housing for seniors with sliding scale services or menu driven pricing for the single person on a limited budget? (We want the kind in an upscale environment.)
Socialization - a few companies mentioned above eliminates isolation. But let's think of other ways older individuals living in the country or in the suburbs could connect and expand their circle. I know a start-up that's creating a mentorship program between older adults and young children. They will connect via online video, in residential housing, or in the libraries to help one another.
Food delivery issues are now solved by Walmart, Whole Foods, Amazon, and other delivery services.
One member suggests, "I'd ask them to structure and offer care programs through more than one lens: One that assumes an individual has no reliable family support; and one that facilitates self-advocacy and offers trustworthy assistance options."
Thinking outside the box here, I ask if a tech designer to create an app to "share the family?" If you ask me, I know several people with four and more children, who would like to get rid on one or two for a couple of hours.
Can you think of a sharing service that would help us?
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