Do You or
a Family Member Need Help With:

Follow the above links to learn more about our services.

Quote: Meals on Wheels are such a blessing to me. I appreciate everyone who helps make them possible – Juanita, Milton Quote: I don't have to worry anymore and Bill loves it. There couldn’t be a better place – for both of us. – Ursula, Pensacola Quote: There is no escaping aging issues. No one and no family is immune. If you or your family have not been affected, you will. Please give generously. C. Flack and Kathleen, Gulf Breeze Quote: I love being a Foster Grandparent. I almost fall to the ground every morning from the kids hugging me. - Queen, Pensacola Quote: Council on Aging of West Florida has been a big help to me. – Robert, Pensacola Quote: Thanks to the support groups, I know what is coming. Before, I didn’t. – Ray, Pace Quote: I volunteer with the Council on Aging of West Florida because I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping seniors, and making new friends! I feel we all need to help our senior citizens to 'pay back' what they have done for us in the past. – Ed, Pensacola

Blog

Elder Orphans March 7, 2017

Though the golden years are full of travel, philanthropy and fun for many older adults, this era of life can present a challenge for those who either did not plan appropriately for their retirement or find themselves beset with physical and mental obstacles while having no one to assist them. A growing subset of the senior population - as much as 22 percent of those 65 and older - is increasingly vulnerable to the otherwise routine aspects of aging because, simply put, there is no one in their life to help them. Their parents and siblings have passed, they never married and therefore have no children, and many of their friends are too far removed or unreachable. This population, known as elder orphans, is a silent, growing problem afflicting many of our nation's elderly.

Elder orphans find themselves in this predicament due largely to circumstance rather than choice, according to the 2016 report "Elderly Orphans Hiding in Plain Sight." Many of these individuals have been perfectly independent throughout their lives and have not needed outside assistance. "As they age and decline, however," the report states, "they realize, often too late, that they can no longer complete many of the tasks they were previously able to do."

Suddenly, and frequently without much warning, elder orphans find themselves stranded - socially, physically, mentally - and unable to access the preventative care they once took for granted. This leads to serious health problems and concerns, which often burdens the individual with unexpected healthcare costs, leading to a downward cycle from which there may realistically be no escape.

Being an elder orphan can have dire social and mental consequences, as well. With decreased social interaction due to the inability to access transportation, seniors can suffer loneliness and isolation, crucial risk factors for medical complications and mortality. The safety and livelihood of these people are threatened, and without mitigating efforts, could become worse if population trends continue. Seniors without a care network also face legal and estate challenges, since many adults depend on their children to help tend to financial affairs and navigate legal questions. Affordable housing is also hard to come by. Even mobile homes may become unaffordable as their money is tied up with other more pressing expenses, such as food and medicine. Foreclosure and homelessness is a rare but real problem.

Finally, transportation is a necessity of both city and country life, one that many of us take for granted but one that can be prohibitively expensive or turn a simple doctor's visit into a full-day affair.

With no family and few friends, it is incumbent upon us, the community, to rescue these elder orphans from an unfortunate experience during what should be the best years of one's life. Experts recommend reaching out to those who we feel may be isolated and vulnerable and attempting to interact with them. Asking simple questions like, "Have you fallen in the last six months?" or "How much medicine do you take?" can be helpful when contacting a social services agency, such as Council on Aging, on their behalf. Offering to take them to church, doctor's appointments and community events can also go a long way toward helping them. Researchers say that developing a rotation schedule with neighbors can lighten the load on individuals in the community.

It is crucial, according to the literature, to reach elder orphans before complete loss of cognitive and physical functions or admission into acute care facilities. "Early identification of these at-risk individuals allows for care plans that can better meet the needs of the elder orphan," the report states.

For those who are truly concerned about a neighbor or acquaintance, consider becoming their health care advocate. Prepare a medical summary of their conditions, allergies, a list of medications and dosages, etc.; offer to accompany them to the doctor and ensure they fully understand diagnoses and treatment options; take notes of any concerning behavior and tell their primary care provider about it; offer to make meals or clean their home in exchange for a small fee, or if you prefer, reach out to service providers who may be able to offer a meal delivery services and transportation from public funds.

Obviously, not everyone can commit to several hours a week of free or even paid work or vigilance. That is why it is so imperative to identify these individuals before their condition deteriorates. If you know someone, or know someone who knows someone who is without parents, a spouse or children, make them aware of the many services available to them should they ever become unable to care for themselves. Encourage them to make an emergency contact sheet with people who are willing to do small tasks for them. By working together, we can alleviate the coming concerns associated with elder orphans and help ensure that their golden years are just that.


Other Entries

Please help us provide seniors in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties with the programs and services they need to live healthy, safe and independent lives in their own familiar surroundings. These program and services, which include Meals on Wheels, adult day health care and caregiver support, enable seniors and their caregivers to face an uncertain future with the dignity they deserve.



Coming of Age TV See Past Interviews

Coming of Age Video

Looking for senior-related information online? Watch interviews with local experts on a variety of topics on our YouTube Channel. These segments from Coming of Age TV have been archived for convenience.

Learn More | YouTube

Are you 55? Or older and interested in helping a peer in their home or children in a learning environment?

Learn More | Email
or Call (850) 432-1475

Coming of Age Magazine

Coming of Age Magazine is the only senior - oriented lifestyle publication in Northwest Florida. Locally produced and published in Pensacola, Florida by Council on Aging of West Florida in partnership with Ballinger Publishing.

Coming of Age Magazine

Summer 2018 - 6/22/2018
Coming of Age summer 2018

Learn More

HomeAbout UsServicesDonateVolunteerEventsNewsResourcesContact Us
(c) 2018 Council on Aging of West Florida
P.O. Box 17066, Pensacola, FL 32522 | 850-432-1475
United Way Partner Agency
HIPAA NoticePrivacy Policy

Council on Aging of West Florida is
compliant with the Better Business Bureau's
Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability
Learn more at www.bbb.org