If you were to Google it, here’s one of the definitions that you might discover. “An elder orphan is an old person who is single, lives alone, has no children or family member or friend who can act on his or her behalf in handling health, legal and financial issues.”
To some this might conjure up an image of a lonely old person stooped over, dressed in tattered clothes pushing a walker. Contrast this with the depiction of a smiling happy couple enjoying sunshine, sand and sitting on a mountain of disposable income as depicted in Time magazine’s cover story in August 2013. It is a wide spectrum.
Although it serves well to understand the term, much of the audience for this blog and forum won’t consider themselves elder. Most of us would like to achieve the status, but probably long before we achieve that magic age, we become aware that in time we will grow into the role. Probably very few of us in our formative years even gave a thought to the matter.
There is a good chance that deciding not to have kids can lead you to becoming an elder orphan, but it isn’t necessarily so. Childless couples often have plenty of siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews and close trusted friends. Elder orphans likely have few of these, and even fewer who are young enough to build a long term plan around.
It doesn’t matter how you became (or will become) an elder orphan. If you are fine with it, don’t spend any time exploring this web site. However if you are the kind of person who needs a plan to ensure your welfare, perhaps you will find some answers here.
It would be interesting to take a look at statistics that suggested how a person became an elder orphan. In a lot of lives, it was not an issue until the death of a spouse or child, or perhaps illness or incarceration rendered them helpless to assist you or maybe they moved to the other side of the planet. Or possibly there is no trust in the obvious person who might assume the role of our guardian. Some people are simply not good at handling money. If they inherited a fortune, it would soon be gone to fancy cars and homes, exotic vacations and questionable business schemes. Would you want this kind of person to be your power of attorney? Even though they may be your son, daughter or other closest relative, it is doubtful that they would make the list.
So, whether you charted a course for your life that would likely lead you to becoming an elder orphan or you became one by circumstance, you have, or will soon have some decisions to make. Who will care for you if you become mentally or physically incapacitated and how will you deal with your estate matters may top the list.
Finally, I think of elderorphan couples and in the same category as a single elder orphan. Unless they both perish in the same accident, one of them will survive to deal with our dilemma.