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Helping People Age with Dignity

What is an 'elderly orphan'?

There are many terms out there that have to do with seniors. One such term that our readers may have come across in recent times is "elderly orphan." A natural question one may have when encountering this term is: what exactly does it mean?

Simply put, an elderly individual is an "elderly orphan" if they do not have a spouse, children or any other close relatives to provide them with help and support in their elder years.  

Research indicates that elderly orphans may be becoming quite common here in the United States. A study has estimated that being an elderly orphan or being at risk of turning into an elderly orphan is a reality for around 22 percent of individuals over the age of 65 in the United States.

Being an elderly orphan can pose many challenges for an elderly individual. For one, it can pose emotional challenges, as it can leave an elderly individual without a helpful source of emotional support when dealing with the difficulties that can arise in old age. Another challenge it can pose is that not having close relatives to look out for them can sometimes make it more difficult for an elderly individual to get the care they need.

Also, being an elderly orphan can be financially challenging. Not having close relatives to help with their care or help with care costs can sometimes leave an elderly orphan facing some very big bills when it comes to their care.

The potential of facing big medical bills down the line can be an important thing for an elderly orphan, a person at risk of being an elderly orphan or any elderly individual for that matter to prepare for. There are a wide range of different care cost planning devices out there, such as care-related trusts. Elder law attorneys can help seniors look into what kind of such devices may be of help to them in their care planning.

Source: Consumer Affairs, "Free-living Baby Boomers at risk of becoming 'elderly orphans'," James R. Hood, May 18, 2015

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