What It Means to Be an Elder Orphan

by Judy Colbert

I’m an elderly person with no children, siblings, or parents. I need more resources to navigate major life decisions.

An elder orphan is someone “of an age” who has no immediate family in their life. No parents, spouse, siblings, children, or grandchildren. They may have immediate family, but the relatives live too far away to be of assistance in times of crisis. There’s another scenario, as in my case, where my immediate family and I are estranged.

This means there is no one to help me with major life decisions as I age, such as moving into a smaller home or to a warmer climate. There’s no one to take care of me when I’m sick or incapacitated (mentally or due to a fall or accident). No one to help manage daily chores, including shopping and writing checks to pay bills. In a worst-case scenario, someone who doesn’t know me might be tasked with making emergency medical decisions on my behalf, including choices I might not have made.

Leave a Reply