Page 2 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - November 2019 - 26-11
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Page 2 Senior Times - November 2019
By: Tim Mitchell, Fund Development Coordinator, Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E.
  “What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year?” It seemed like a good conversation starter and a very natural question to ask just before the holiday.
a worst-case scenario, someone who doesn’t know them will be tasked with making emer- gency medical decisions on their behalf.
almost no contact with others. In many cases, as a result, they had experienced various med- ical conditions, were suffering from depres- sion, and had become socially withdrawn and would only reluctantly talk to others. However, after connecting with other seniors in the day center and interacting with our team of health- care professionals, many have experienced very positive and dramatic transformations in their socialization skills and have also shown improvements in their physical condition.
“Oh, just sitting at home by myself like every other day,” came the monotone response. He continued talking in a less than enthusiastic voice, “It’s the same thing I do every holiday.”
Consider the fact that by 2035, people who are 65 and older will outnumber those under 18 for the first time in history. That’s only a mere 15 years away and the country is not prepared for the reality of more elder orphans. Anthony Sahlender, an executive associate at the Maryland Department of Aging, says elder orphans are a growing concern, especially, “When people don’t have the ability to make medical decisions.”
The sound of reality was deafening. He will be sitting at home by himself while the vast majority of people across the country will be enjoying a family meal together on Thanksgiving Day. It doesn’t seem right, but unfortunately, that will be the story for thou- sands of elderly this holiday season.
While there are many long-term logistical issues related to caring for these solo agers, there is also the immediate concern of isola- tion. Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of phys- ical and mental conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death. People who find themselves unexpectedly alone due to the death of a spouse or partner, separation from friends or family, retirement, loss of mobility, and lack of transportation are at particular risk.
Yet, helping elder orphans requires the effort of more than just a few organizations specializing in the care of older adults. It takes the concern of an entire community.
They have been referred to as “elder orphans,” “senior orphans,” or “solo agers.” The American Geriatrics Society calls these individuals “unbefriended.”
As we approach the holiday season, please ask yourself this question, “Who
do I know that may be an elder orphan?” It may be a family member, a neighbor or someone you’ve heard others talk about. Can you plan your holiday a little different- ly this year to include them at your table?
  According to AARP, more than 20 per- cent or 8.6 million people older than 65 are now, or are at risk of becoming, an elder orphan – a senior citizen who does not have a spouse, significant other, or children to help care for them as they age.
Your hospitality may make a significant dif- ference in their life. Remember, “Helping one person may not change the world, but it might change the world for one person.” Whose world can you change with a simple act of hos- pitality this holiday season?
  Unfortunately, the number of elder orphans increases when you consider those who have adult children who, for various reasons, are unable or unwilling to help care for them. And, this number is estimated to increase steadily until it doubles by the year 2050.
Conversely, studies also show that people who engage in meaningful, productive activi- ties with others tend to live longer, boost their mood, and have a sense of purpose. These activities seem to help maintain their well-be- ing and may even improve their cognitive function.
At Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. it is our desire to change the world for each person
we serve. Our care model eliminates the elder orphan issue for our participants by providing socialization opportunities and a strategically personalized plan of care. Possibly you know of an elder orphan we can help. If so, please call us at (269) 441-9319 or visit www.senior-
These elder orphans have no one to help them with major life decisions as they age. There is no one to take care of them when they are sick or incapacitated. There is no one to help them manage daily chores, including shopping and writing checks to pay bills. In
Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. recognizes the need to provide socialization opportunities for the elder orphans in our community. Our day centers have welcomed many individu- als who, prior to becoming a participant, had
   Experience the Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. Difference!
                                       THE CARE YOU NEED TO HELP YOU STAY IN THE HOME YOU LOVE!
• Physical and Occupational • Quality Medical Care • Socialization
Therapy Services • Social Services • Support for Caregivers
• Safety in the Home
Call us to find out if Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. is right for you or someone you love.
(269) 441-9319 or visit
200 W. Michigan Ave, Ste 103, Battle Creek, MI • 445 W. Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI • 800 E. Milham Ave, Portage, MI

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