Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Are You at Risk of Becoming an Elder Orphan?


By Kris Garrison, LivWell CARES

It’s a term you’ll be hearing in the years to come, especially as the first wave of Baby Boomers turn 80 over the next 10 years. People 80 and over are most likely to need long-term care as they age. Currently one in four Baby Boomers is at risk of becoming an “elder orphan,” meaning a senior without family to support them due to divorce, death, or other circumstances. Additionally, the childless rate among the older population is projected to increase 21 percent by 2040. One doesn’t have to be childless though, to become an elder orphan. Estrangement and geography can also play a part. Because families are no longer rooted where their parents live, it’s six times more likely that seniors age 75 and over won’t have children residing nearby in 2030.

The AARP has some practical suggestions if you fall into this category. A crucial first step is to get your paperwork in order. Do you have a will? If you should suddenly become incapacitated, who will make financial or health decisions on your behalf? Make sure you have legal paperwork in order, such as a Power-of-Attorney, Healthcare Directive and/or a Living Will. That legal paperwork should be accessible to others, such as your physician, bank, or a trusted friend or relative.

With your paperwork in order, now it’s time to begin thinking about the best place for you to live as you age. Evaluate your current living situation. Do you live in a remote area? Consider moving to an area that’s more populated or is on a bus line. Do you want to “age in place” and stay in your home?  Does your home have stairs that could be a problem? Is your physical and mental health such that aging in place is a realistic or safe option without assistance? Even with home health care you might still come to a point where living at home is no longer possible.

The AARP suggests that sharing a home/living space with other aging Boomers can be a good option. Remember “The Golden Girls?” Taking on roommates or moving to a senior community or assisted living facility are options for those who can afford it.

LivWell CARES, a local non-profit that serves economically disadvantaged seniors, can help you navigate through the maze of senior living options and has referral relationships with local senior facilities. If you’re concerned that you might become an “elder orphan,” let us help you. Contact Kris Garrison at LivWell CARES: info@qclivwellcares.com, 563-344-3700.