Oct 04, 2017

Elder Orphans: Who Are They?

Ageing is a part of life – and most people imagine that they would be surrounded by those they love as they get older.

But some people – particularly those without partners and children – are faced with the reality of ageing alone.

These people are elder orphans.

Some are elder orphans by choice, having never had children a lifelong partner. While other are elder orphans by circumstance, being widowed, with family support is far away and or their social circle is dwindling.

Having children doesn’t prevent this – grown children may be preoccupied with jobs, children of their own to care for, or other demands of adult life. They may also live far away. Or they may be estranged.

No matter how they got there, they are all in the same place now. And they find themselves alone with no one to help care for them when they need it.

Social isolation is a serious risk for elder orphans. Whilst social isolation may lead to feelings of loneliness for some people, for others being socially isolated and having very few social connections may not have any impact on them at all.

Conversely, a person with a number of social interactions and connections can still experience loneliness.

Many people in aged care are elder orphans. Though a loved one may have place them in care, these residents find that they rarely have visitors.

However, to combat this there are visitor schemes to help lonely residents.

Community Visitors Schemes (CVS) are run by multiple organisations around the country, including the Red Cross and Lifeline, and are supported by the Federal Government.

The Importance of Being Prepared

People who are in the position of becoming as elder orphan – or are concerned they might have to face the ageing process alone can do a number of things to make the process easier.

  • See a doctor regularly – prevention is better than cure, and it’s always better to catch any ill health early. Exercise and eat healthy.
  • Have an advocate – this can be a distant relative, a close friend or even a neighbour – to support you should you even end up in hospital or need help.
  • Create your own community – many older people find themselves as elder orphans, so lean on each other. Have a share house, start a hobby together – having a small community to share your life with can be great for your mental and physical health.
  • Work to eliminate debt if possible – it can improve a person’s quality of life if they don’t have debt hanging over their heads

This advice isn’t simple for people who are alone, even people with children and spouses can utilise it to be prepared.

What do you have to say? Comment, share and like below.

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    1. Does Hello Care show how they can connect with others as I find those orphans I help are unable to or don’t know how….

  1. Hi, I consider myself an Elder Orphan now the realization of old age is slowly becoming a daunting reality for me. At the age of 59 now I am still able to work and fend for myself without to many problems.

    But now nearly half way through 2023 and the cost of living going through the roof being able to cope and provide for myself is becoming more and more of struggle.

    Most people don’t understand why or how someone can describe themselves as an Elder Orphan. Well in my case I was adopted into a caring but dysfunctional family. Notice I don’t use the word loving because it wasn’t.

    But it was well meaning and generally interested in my well being and future prospects to a degree but no interventions on my behalf for self improvement encouragement or childhood life lessons from a Father, Most fully rounded and successful Adults take for this granted as they are taught the importance of an Education and the Social Skills needed from an early age.

    I was never really accepted and generally treated like the black sheep of the family. I know nothing of my biological mother or farther. And I wasn’t born with the street smarts I needed to get ahead in a situation that was completely alien to me. I am not an extrovert by nature and as a child I needed a lot more nurturing and direction that was needed to forge ahead and take life on head first.

    This is not sob story I am very appreciative of how I am able to cope and fend for myself because having an adopted Family. All be it, I am not very close to or fond of. The alternative to being adopted isn’t a very pleasant thought as you well may be able to imagine. I did and do love my Adopted mother who now has since passed on in 2013. I do have an adopted Brother and Sister are are now estranged to me.

    Because of me being able to support my Mother in her old age and me being close her as a result being the only one left in a position to do it, as I have no family of my own. Which as you can imagine brings all sorts of emotional turmoil from other family members feeling the guilt of ignoring their obligations, for a better life. Which they now have as a result.

    I am only writing this as a message for other who may be or may have experienced the same reality I am trying to express here. Because I am and others are very much a Hidden and Ignored part of Society no one wants to think about let alone talk about.

    So I do pray there is a place and some realization of our existence, for us black Sheep of Society. I know the abyss of Loneliness in a big echo chamber for no hopers like me to scream into because there is no one every listening. I know I get it. But by creating a post like this may bring some attention to a pretty cold and lonely place to exist in for a lot of people out there who dont know how to speak up about it, as a result of no fault or blame of their own.

    SO YES we do exist , Sorry about that.


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