What to Do if You Are Growing Older Without Spouse or Children
Traditionally, when people get older and need help, they turn to their families – especially to their children. Now, though, more people than before are entering their later years without children or a partner. If that is your situation, or if it will be in the future, you can still get the help you need. You just have to be more creative in finding your own social support systems, and you will probably need to do more planning.
New programs are springing up to help the growing number of single, childless elderly:
- Some programs are run by volunteers. The Village to Village Network is a neighborhood-based program that helps seniors with everyday tasks, such as getting to doctors’ appointments or shoveling snow. This is an idea that is catching on. More than 200 neighborhood organizations are now in the network, and 150 more will be available soon.
- Some programs provide professional services. Geriatric care managers help seniors stay in their own homes. The care managers can help coordinate care in times of need, such as after discharge from a hospital.
- Social support is also available online. The Elder Orphan Facebook Group has nearly 6,500 members who use the group to connect with other single, childless seniors.
- Technology has also made it easier to get food and services delivered to your home.
- Services are available that monitor financial accounts to detect fraud.
A more expensive option is to move into a retirement community that offers various levels of care. With independent living, assisted living and a skilled nursing unit all available within the same facility, seniors can stay in the same community even if their needs for assistance change.
Other options are cohousing communities or, less formally, sharing a home with other seniors, “Golden Girls” style. Another choice for people who are relatively independent is to move to a new town or city that is friendly, has good services for seniors, and is easier to get around without needing to drive.
One risk of getting older that can affect seniors, whether or not they have children looking after them, is the problem of elder abuse. If you ever suspect that someone is trying to take advantage of you or if a caretaker is being abusive, you should contact an elder abuse lawyer for help. Call Garcia, Artigliere and Medby at 1-800-281-8515 to speak to an experienced elder abuse attorney.