Homecare Concerns for Elder Orphans Growing Old Alone in Durham

January 26, 2017 | By Lorenzo Mejia

One of the many homecare concerns for elderly is growing old without adequate help. Researchers are coining a new phrase for elderly who live alone, elder orphans. They describe an elder orphan as someone who is socially or physically isolated without an available family member or caregiver to help them manage aging. Nationally, over 22.6% of the older population over age 65 is at risk for aging alone. They are unmarried, widowed, childless and have no family nearby. The statistics are staggering across many large cities. In Chicago and New York City, 49% of homeowners over 65 are living alone and Los Angeles has 44%.

There needs to be an awareness of the loneliness and isolation of living alone, which also correlates to an increased risk of heart disease and mortality in seniors. Isolation is believed to affect 1 in 5 people over age 50 and to be associated with higher rates of chronic disease, depression, dementia and death. Isolation is believed to have an equivalent effect on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Day-to-day life also presents complications for seniors living alone such as filling medications, visiting the doctor, accessing groceries, paying bills and sticking to treatment plans.

Senior advocates want to encourage elder orphans to be proactive in planning for their later years. Those living alone should live near cities so they can access affordable housing, convenient transportation and social opportunities. They should choose to settle near family or friends if possible. They should also find someone to assist them with legal matters for difficult health care decisions.
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