There are about 5,000 elder orphans connected through a Facebook group, a group founded by Carol Marak, columnist and editor at SeniorCare.com. To belong to this group, you have to be 55 or over, living without a spouse, having no children (or having estranged children or living far away). What started this group was an experience of providing quite a bit of care to parents and then realizing – who will care for me? Who will give me the time, effort and resources I may need? There are many members of this group who are very grateful to share the same grievances, hardships and challenges. The members check in and give support in emergencies and to those heading into an emotional or medical event. The support goes a long way for those who have no one else to check on them. Reaching out has become a necessity to prevent total isolation, as elder orphans plan for aging alone; local agencies on aging and senior centers are a way to begin. One option is to adopt a family that has lost its elder members. Another is to rent out a room to someone who could help in return for rent or even to rent a room to another elder person, to keep company. Co-housing communities are being built to help those seemingly alone; everyone has their own home or space and they provide a separate space for a caregiver – free of charge.
So what happens with the Facebook group? It is sharing and discussing things such as what we are feeling, talking about things that affect us. It is a place to feel accepted, to find friendship and connection. Becoming friends and breaking off into a small or private group is an additional possibility. Sharing thoughts, finding companionship and helping another person are great ways of having purpose in your life – a great experience for adults aging alone. For additional thoughts, go to: http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2017/08/15/elder-orphans
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