Since you are reading this you probably Googled something like “elder orphan”, “senior orphan”, “seniors without children”, “aging childless”, “childless seniors” or some other search terms of your own invention. Perhaps you are on a quest as I am to discover if there is an opportunity for elder orphans to meet, mingle, and share ideas or experiences.
We all bear a number of labels that describe who we are, where we live, and ideas and tenets that place us in a group or cluster of similar people. Researchers can isolate us by investigating the facets of our lives and beliefs; the neighbourhood that we live in, our career, the political party that we favour, the church that we attend, the kind of foods that we prefer, if we prefer dogs or cats, our preferences in music and art, etc. The list is boundless. And it occurs to me that for each of these labels there is probably some vehicle for us to contact others who share these common traits or interests. There are clubs and associations, magazines, radio and television programs, Internet blogs and forums where we can tune into our particular interest and be presented with ideas and opportunities that might appeal to us.
As I approached middle age and it was clear that there would be no children in my life, it became obvious that unless I undertook some careful planning, my senior years had the potential to be more perilous than those of my friends.. They would have family to support, guide and advise them if their health or cognitive ability was compromised. I would have to discover my own strategy to building some security that would sustain me in my silver years.
I knew from my own experience that there was a very large element of the population that shared my dilemma and it occurred to me that many of them had already considered the challenge confronting them and had taken steps to shore up their plans given their circumstances. I wondered how they had dealt with the legal matters of wills, executors, beneficiaries, power of attorney, financial planning, and other non-legal issues such as the potential need for personal care/assistance at some point in their life.
I turned to the Internet in an attempt to tune into and connect with other elder orphans and I found little that would serve as a platform to batch us together.
In February of 2004 when I first registered the domain name elderorphan.org the term “elder orphan” was barely recognized. Although not exactly ubiquitous, the term elder orphan is now acknowledged and understood. There are many of us. You can find statistics that suggest that approximately a third of us live alone and have no obvious support system should something occur in our lives that would warrant one.
Those statistics suggest that there are tens of millions of people in North America alone who share this dilemma. Surely many of them have plans and systems in place to address this challenge. Would a website serve as a clearing house for ideas and perhaps even companionship? My hope is that elderorphan.org will offer the opportunity to connect.
When I registered the domain name, I felt no sense of urgency to delve into the project however I did dabble with the idea and was flattered to discover how quickly a few followers discovered the site. Nevertheless, my career and other events presented interference and the idea lay fallow. None of the excuses matter and the project has life again.
The big question now is whether elderorphan.org will find traction and grow into a vehicle that delivers ideas and opportunities to our community or if it flounders and fails. I decided that a BLOG style of web site might serve the purpose well at least in the incubation stage. Who knows what it might evolve into?
In the research that I have conducted on blogging, it seems that there is a very great possibility that I will be writing to myself as the only audience for some time. I hope that it is measured in weeks and not months or years until the visitors begin to accumulate and momentum sustains it, but whatever it is I intend to persevere unless it becomes obvious that there is no interest in the project. I also realize that there will be a great deal of reluctance to expend the time and effort to comment on my posts, especially if you are the first. Nevertheless if you believe that this project has merit, I assure you that any kind of feedback will encourage me to carry on.
I hope that there are a few people in cyber space who will want to participate in the project with me. At some time I am hoping that assistance will be required to manage the web site, moderate the blog and the forum, but it would be extremely helpful if someone would pen a guest post/essay to offer visitors some insights that are not solely mine and presented in a different style. I will deem this a success when the “I” of this project truly becomes a “We”.
If I dare to dream even further into the future is it possible that like the national automobile clubs, alcoholics anonymous, and a host of other organizations there could be chapters of elder orphans in every province, state or city whose existence provides friendship, help and support to each other?
I also pondered whether there might be a need for an organization to advocate for elder orphans. Are there instances where we need a voice? Just as I was completing the final draft of this page, a story appeared on the front page of the local paper concerning the fact that the government of British Columbia was implementing an additional fee for health care for couples without kids. My question was answered. I’m sure that those seniors affected would be pleased to know that there is some person or organization ready to speak on their behalf. Perhaps elderorphan.org will grow into that role.
I should state that my intention has never been to realize any revenue opportunities from this project. The database will grow but it is not for sale and unless the website becomes so successful that it requires much more expensive web hosting services you won’t be subjected to any banner advertising or pleas to send money. There are no hidden pages on the site and no premium content that you will be asked to pay to access.
If you are looking over the menu at the top of this page you will notice that there is a tab to login. The sole reason to explore that button would be in the event that you would like to submit a post or an essay as a guest blogger. I’m not expecting a groundswell of people chomping at the bit to share their opinions on the subject nevertheless I decided to implement a method that makes it simple and easy for anyone who decided to take up the challenge.
Finally, any thoughts that you might have about any aspect of this project are most welcome. You can comment on the BLOG for all to see or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.