A big shout out to the NYTimes for running the story about solo agers who live with no support from family. If you haven't seen it, Single? No Kids? Don't Fret: How to Plan Care in Your Later Years.
A great article by Susan Garland, journalist, who prominently featured a member of the Elder Orphan Facebook group and discussed ways that many plan for growing older alone. Like Sarah, we face chronic illnesses and other medical issues that put us at a higher risk of premature death. However, for Sarah, and others like her, she's doing something about it.
One thing, Sarah is carrying out a go-it-alone plan. A key part of it was to find a small community where she could make friends and walk nearly everywhere, without worrying about the hazards of ice and snow. Sounds a lot of my plan. As with Sarah, I moved to an urban area in Dallas, into a high-rise but smack in the middle of everything where I feel safe and can walk to my errands instead of driving.
Sarah has the same goals, because at some point she will not be able to drive. She wanted a location where she could walk to shop for medications, to visit the library, to worship, and buy groceries.
Just because we're older doesn't mean we don't want to live like Millennials. Many of us do! Sarah lives in a single family residence where the neighbors look out for one another. I live in a high-rise and in the same type of friendly environment. There is always someone to have a conversation with, and heck, even enjoy a bite to eat with if desired.
We are a growing population as Susan Garland points out in a study by AARP. By 2030, about 16 percent of women 80 to 84 will be childless, compared to 12 percent in 2010. I've also read another study by AARP that individuals 65 and over, and the oldest of old. 85 and over, live alone.
The article also features research that brought the term elder orphans back to light which points out that individuals aging alone at home or in other places need to make plans while still functioning well and independently. They need to learn about the resources in the community and the appropriate time to start using them.
Some services include:
There are many services we need that could be addressed by on-demand apps and tools. Just today, I drove past a vehicle with a sign that said, "On-demand dog service." Now, what I want to see is an on-demand caregiving service.
Image credit: The Dallas Elder Orphan Group