Especially if you don’t have a family support system.
“Elder Orphan” is a term embraced by some and shunned by others. It’s hard to determine who first coined the words, but it has become a common way to describe a group of people who share some characteristics.
According to the October 2016 abstract Elder Orphans Hiding in Plain Sight: A Growing Vulnerable Population published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH): We define elder orphans as aged, community-dwelling individuals who are socially and/or physically isolated, without an available known family member or designated surrogate or caregiver.
Basically, “elder orphan” describes individuals living alone with little or no support system. At least no traditional support system of spouse, children, or other family member who will care for them. I am an elder orphan and have been in conversation with friends on how we could live together in community, creating our own support system. We haven’t done anything formally, but the fact that this is a common topic of conversation between folks of a certain age tells you just how prevalent the situation is today.
Truthfully, there are many individuals who are estranged from family, while others value their independence and don’t want to ask for help. Regardless of how one achieves elder orphan status, help with healthcare, finances, and legal documents that protect you are areas that professionals can step in and support you if family is not an option.
Life Planning and Healthcare
Aging Life Care Specialists, formerly known as geriatric care managers, are professionals who can help with a variety of needs, from home repairs and care services, to arriving at the ER in a health crisis.
Essentially they become the surrogate professional family member taking on tasks that a family member might.
Daily Money Managers help you maintain control of your finances. They can pay your bills, reconcile insurance claims and help organize your financial records to name just a few of the more common tasks.
Elder Law Attorney
Elder law attorneys ensure that protections are in place with key documents like a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, a Living Will/Advance Directive for Health Care. They will guide you through Medicaid planning as well. When you add an elder law attorney to a team that has an Aging Life Care Specialist and Daily Money Manager, they will help create an overall care plan and then implement it.
Guardianship attorneys come into play when a plan established with an elder law attorney does not work or if someone has failed to plan. We have all heard stories of people who do not have a Power of Attorney or a Living Will or they lose capacity and the court needs to impose a guardianship process. What is less well known and understood are limited guardianships and conservatorships and how they can help.
Over the next couple of weeks, we will explore in more detail how these professionals can help elder orphans, what you can expect to pay for their services and where they can be found. Putting together a team that helps you plan and then carry out that plan for your later years is expensive. It is best to understand what might be needed before you need it and incorporate their services into your plans for the future.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.