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Becoming an Elder Orphan

At 62 years old, I'm already becoming an Elder Orphan. Never married, no children, no close or close-by relatives to help me. I try to stay in contact with my cousins who are my age or a few years younger or older, but they have health or family problems of their own. My best friends don't live near me either and most of them either still work full-time or have elderly parents to care for. I have COPD so I don't get around much or well due to getting easily winded. I don't drive/have a car. The closest bus stop is a block away and I don't think I could make it. And there's nowhere to sit if I could get there.I've applied for Paratransit and waiting for their decision. I think that'll help with mobility/transportation. I use Lyft to get to and from doctor appointments, and to visit my mother (20 minutes away). I have my groceries and most household products delivered by Peapod, Walgreen's, Target, etc. I signed up for Freshly to start having prepared meals delivered every week or so. I just feel so isolated and helpless, and I don't like it. I have a sibling who lives about 20 minutes away with a car. But she works full time. And we had a big falling out 2 months ago that has permanently obliterated the relationship. Best I can think of to do in the near term is stay in touch with friends.

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I am 63 and have some of the same difficulties you are having. I no longer have a car and live in a large city on the opposite side of the United States as you do. I used public transportation all the time until about 2013. I had ACCESS (the California Version of Paratransit) but did not have the money to use it often. Since then when I need to I use it more but I still take the bus often. I live in an apartment building that was not an assisted living when I moved in but they added a Living Waiver Program because a lot of the people that came here were coming directly from a hopsital, so between the apartment building and the Waiver Program they offer different groups you can go to so you can stay somewhat social. The Waiver also has a van that the clients can go on (use to be 2 times a week but now we are down to 1 time a week because one of the drivers had a medical situation that the are down a driver now). Because I was a fall risk because the medication I was on in 2016 caused my legs to cramp and go out from under me, I was given a walker and put on the Waiver Program put also referred to In Home Supportive Services. They will take me to my appointments, the store, and to run errands. They also do some personal assistance (bathing,dressing, etc. which I do not need) and some housekeeping. I am in the process of hiring someone now. Do you have a senior center near you? When I lived in Long Beach, CA, we had a nice one that had an exercise room, it had a doctor from a local hospital that came there for only the seniors, they had a puzzle room, they had music/talent show on Friday. Anyone could get up and perform their talent. There was a man that was a singer when he worked and so he would sing regularly, there was a few people that would tap dance on stage, there was a man who had a masters degree in music and he could play the piano and if someone had requests, he would play. They had a little cafe there where you could get some snacks and even a thrift store there on site. There would be flyers on various topics of groups. I remember they even had trips once in a while. They even had exercise groups like yoga in addition to the exercise room. They would have one day where they had food give a ways and you could go there for lunch if you were 65 for a small fee. You may want to check and see if you have something like that that you may be able to go to on the days you feel you can. Sometimes some of the men and women would get up and dance together when someone was playing the piano or another type of music was on. There was also a social group that met at the facility on scheduled days. I know you said you COPD but have you thought about teaching people/youngsters how to read. One of my girlfriends from junior high and high school, her mother volunteered at the local library and helped people learn to read or read better. She loved it. If you are good at any other subjects you could volunteer your time tutoring on that subject. There is also groups that are made up of older adults that are foster grandparents. They are somehow teamed up with a family that has a child/children that does not have a grand-parent or does not live near one and they fill that void. AARP has volunteer opportunities also. I use to belong to a church that had a active senior group so if you find a church, they may have the same thing there. You also mentioned that you use Lyft at times. One thing you may want to check into is with your medical insurance. Through my medicaid I can call them up if I have a doctor appointment and set up transportation to and from my medical appointment. Sometimes my appointments are near but sometimes they would be a 2 hour ride on the bus or cost too much for me to pay for it if I have very many appointments that month which has happened so I call them and they set it up. Funny thing is although they have some medical transportation companies they use, but what they use most often is Lyft but they pay through your insurnace, not you. If you need assistance getting in and out of the vehicle or have a walker or wheel chair (foldable) they can help with that also. Usually these people only do medical because it is more dependable than just accepting regular Lyft rides. They make more money doing the medical transportation and they treat you good. I prefer to use them to take me to my appointments most of the time. If I get an IHSS worker and they will not be available for my appointment I have a back up resource. Do you have a Meal On Wheels there where you are? Here they are the same meals you would receive at the senior center but it comes to your home. I too have one sister left and we do not have a regular social relationship. My dad died over 35 years ago and my mother 7 years ago, my middle sister passed away 2 years ago and my brother last year. I never had children and went through a divorce almost 30 years ago and never re-married. I have several neices and nephews but they all live in other states except a for couple but they are over 25 miles away. We do not socialize except for on social media. One more thing. I see you do not think you can go a block to get the bus because you get winded and there is no place to sit. Have you thought about getting a rolling walker to take with you so if there is no place to sit, you can sit on the walker if you get winded or if you have to wait for Lyft to pick you up from your appointments. Usually they are there right away but sometimes with them but expecially the paratransit, I have had to wait a while because they were late for some reason. It is okay if there is somewhere to sit but if not, I like having my walker because then I have a place to sit and it is mobile so you can sit in the shade if you need to. You know we are baby boomers and I cannot tell you how many seniors (especially senior women I see wearing jeans or knit pants which can be pull ups) so you should not worry about how you are dressed. My own mother you could not get her out of her housedresses and into pants until after my brother and sister-in-law gave her her first pant suit. Once we got her into pants, we could not get her out of them. She never worried about having to wear a dress again. She even worked at the local rehabilitation center in the pharmacy for years and she was able to wear business casual dress there (pull on pants with a nice top) never a dress. Also a lot of the churches, if they have a group that thinks that at the early services women need to wear dresses and men suits, they usually have at least one service in the evening, that is more casual. Most of the people that go to that service are the people that come from work to church or the younger college age students and they are more likely to be in pants than a dress or suit. I am sorry if this was a bit much but I hope it helps you figure out what you can/need to do.
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I am female 75 and really need some friends to chat with or spend time with.  Would love to be part of a family as i miss the kids.  Cared for children all my life now am told i am to old to do this.  

 

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@SueH788485 wrote:

I am female 75 and really need some friends to chat with or spend time with.  Would love to be part of a family as i miss the kids.  Cared for children all my life now am told i am to old to do this.  

 


Hi Sue,

There are ways to become a part of a family, to help children, as a volunteer, as a member of a worship community as a member of the team that cares for kids or sunday school teacher... So you don't have kids of your own and you've been told that you're 'too old' (harrumph!!) to continue to provide daycare or teach. So you're receiving social security and a pension? What would you like to do now? Who is your community now? Please tell us more. And, i hope the holidays are a time of rest and joy. Remember, movies are open on Christmas Day!

 

Write us more?

Jane

Newbie

Hello,

This is my first post here. I am 57, suffer from Fibromyalgia and migraines that are both progressing as I age. I have never been married, nor do I have any children, therefore, I shall be aging alone. I also live 8 miles outside of town in a small town with not much to offer those of us that are aging alone. I DO love where I live and am paying off my home as well. I am hoping to have it paid off by the time I retire or soon after. But reading some other posts, am wondering if I should not start looking at selling my home either now or when I retire and move into town where I would be closer to services I may eventually be in need of or stay where I love living. Any advice out there would be greatly appreciated. I also have very few friends that I could call on to assist me if something should happen to me. I do have a sister that lives close by, but she has a life of her own.

Candis

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@CandisM936612 I think it's great that you are thinking ahead about this. Hopefully you have many many years ahead before you'll need assistance, but eventually you may need some support - help doing yardwork, housework, climbing up on ladders, etc. You may also need help with personal care some day, and transportation when you stop driving. So it's a great idea to think about how you'll manage that. 

 

You might start by looking into what services are offered that would be available to you where you currently live. You can contact the Area Agency on Aging in your area (go to the Eldercare Locator at www.eldercare.acl.gov and put in your zip code and then you'll get a listing that includes your local area agency on aging. Check out their website, call and ask what services are offered to people in their homes where you live - tell them you are planning for the future. As about home health aids, chore services, transportation services, housekeeping, etc. etc. You can also ask about the costs - how much it costs to pay someone for various tasks you may need some day. That will help you budget. Ask, also, what is offered in town - so you get a feeling for the differences - and what your options are. Also look at the cost of housing in town. You might meet with a financial planner also. Also look at your current house and how livable it is as you age. Is there a first floor bedroom and bathroom? Could one be created? Where is the laundry located? Are there stairs? What is involved in entering the home? Can it be made safe? 

 

That will give you an idea of what your life would be like if you stay there, vs. if you move. Also look at quality of life, socialization (very important for your health and well-being), activities etc. 

 

I'd love to hear what you learn! 

 

The  section on the AARP website has lots of information about "livable" communities and what to look for as you age!  

 

Also this is the AARP HomeFit Guide with suggestions of ways to adapt your home as you age.

 

Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving and

Color Your Way Content When Caring for Loved Ones

 

 

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I thought I was the only one oon the planet   in this same situation. 62 y.o. never married no children.  I dedicated my life to my work as a traveling hospice nurse- now I need help and there is little to be found----   I have been in the same home over 42 years, climbing a ladder and doing repairs on my own are now  not an option, alll the original neighbors i grew up with are all gone; now all the neighbors are very young,  just starting a family and out of 10 houses only one bothers to say hello when they see me ; they are all invovled in their work or very young family.  I t  is all most depressing--- all i have found is the great group called the Humanists of America each state has their own branch --- they are non political and non religious  u just came as u are and they do volunteer stuff for the community-- i cant do physical stuff but i can write letters, contact theh local newspaper when events happen and make phone calls---other than that it is try to get involved in a local church  which for me getting all dressed up is also a burden  as i live in pull on clothes---------------in a very weird way it is nice to know i am not all alone out there---but it doesn;t solve the lack of stimulation or human contact problem------Curious to see what u find out there  All I can Say is keep reaching out and trying   evne though i know how very hard and depressisng it is to be all alone. Much good luck, peace and Blessings signed a very tired traveling nurse in Florida

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@SedonaS812353 That's great that you are getting involved in volunteering! It's a great way to meet like-minded people and to feel your sense of purpose in life. I'm guessing, too, that people at church wouldn't care what you are wearing to go there - the key thing is the community you build.

 

Since you were a hospice nurse, would you be interested in being a hospice volunteer? Just to visit with people?

 

In some communities there are volunteer banks, or "village" programs where people volunteer doing the things they can do, and others volunteer to help you with things you can't do so easily. So for example, you might help someone write letters who has a difficult time writing. That gets you hours in the "bank", and someone else might volunteer to help you with some chores around the house. 

 

You can ck to see if there is a "village" program on the Village 2 Village website directory - just put in your zip code and see if there is a program near you. 

 

Take care, 

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving

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@SedonaS812353 wrote:

I thought I was the only one oon the planet   in this same situation. 62 y.o. never married no children.  I dedicated my life to my work as a traveling hospice nurse- now I need help and there is little to be found----   I have been in the same home over 42 years, climbing a ladder and doing repairs on my own are now  not an option, alll the original neighbors i grew up with are all gone; now all the neighbors are very young,  just starting a family and out of 10 houses only one bothers to say hello when they see me ; they are all invovled in their work or very young family.  I t  is all most depressing--- all i have found is the great group called the Humanists of America each state has their own branch --- they are non political and non religious  u just came as u are and they do volunteer stuff for the community-- i cant do physical stuff but i can write letters, contact theh local newspaper when events happen and make phone calls---other than that it is try to get involved in a local church  which for me getting all dressed up is also a burden  as i live in pull on clothes---------------in a very weird way it is nice to know i am not all alone out there---but it doesn;t solve the lack of stimulation or human contact problem------Curious to see what u find out there  All I can Say is keep reaching out and trying   evne though i know how very hard and depressisng it is to be all alone. Much good luck, peace and Blessings signed a very tired traveling nurse in Florida



And here i thought you lived in Sedona Arizona!

Are you still working as a hospice nurse? And you're in the same house all this time? We have traveling nurses come through my small town frequently but they're just passing through... In any case, you do not have to live as a hermit, right? You can 'come as you are' in pull on pants to  a Unitarian Church or even an Episcopal one. You can volunteer at a food pantry. You can get out there a bit more. And what about nieces or nephews? What about buying into a continuing care community and joining the social occasions that they offer? You're young yet. You have some health issues, but you have lots of life left in you, right?

 

You are not the only 'elder orphan' for sure. And all of the orphans have options...

 

Write more?

 

Jane

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I thought I was reading my own story. lol.  I am a 62 year old divorced female with no children.  That is the biggest reason that I am divorced. It was my ex-spouses way or no way and I could no longer live like that because that did not include children.  He would not even discuss it when I approached him.  That's okay that is his loss and my gain.  He has since remarried but it was like he was trying to replace me because the new wife looks just like me when he left.  (I wonder how she would feel about that? lol.)   Both my parents and all my aunt and uncles are gone now, and my siblings are each more than 10 years my senior and we do not have much of a relationship.  It started out as I did not want to be around them because they did not treat me right.  Now one is so paranoid they do not want any one except our eldest sibling, their children, grand-children and current spouse around them. And the other one will go to visit the one closest in age to them but not me.  That's okay because I have decided that when they call me to help them when they get to the point they need more help than just their children to help, I am not going because of how bad they treated me.  I had to put someone down as emergency contact in case of an emergency but neither one thinks I should and act as though they will not be there for me if anything happens.  I am currently trying to figure out what I am going to have to do to make sure my last requests are carried out as I want and not the way someone else thinks it should be.  Since I have not remarried and do not have many real close friends any longer that live close by, I really do not know what I am going to do.  I figure all I can do is to live my life the best I can and accomplish what I can and not live my life with regrets.

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I called myself an orphan when my mother passed away. Both of my parents are gone and I have no siblings. I am divorced with no children. My best friend moved far away several years ago. I am retired and the friends that I have were mostly from work. They are much younger than me and have families of their own. I was feeling very isolated and even more so when I was asked for an emergency contact. I had no one to put down. I had used my mother for years, but she was now gone. My health is failing and making life more difficult.

 

My life improved when two of my work friends stepped in to help me. They have become like children to me. They are my angels. When I had no family or anyone else to reach out to, they have adopted me into their families. They have proven over and over again that good friends can be as good, if not better than family. I feel very fortunate now and encourage others to look outside of their family for help. You just might find your angel too.

AARP Expert

@GatorRx77 This is so wonderful to hear! There are many really good people out there and I'm so glad you found two of them who have taken you into their families and are there for you when you need them. Sometimes families by choice are just as good if not better than biological families! 

 

Thank you for sharing this story - it gives me hope that there are still great people out there who care! 

 

Take care,

Amy

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im still waiting for my angel, but im afraid shes not comming ....i wait n grieve
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@philb908321 wrote:
im still waiting for my angel, but im afraid shes not comming ....i wait n grieve

Good morning, Phil. At least its morning for me on the west coast. I saw this post, and i went to your list of posts to see if i could find out more about you. Please don't get your hopes up, i'm not looking for a companion, but i do 'hear' your desire for a friend, companion, person to be with, help out, travel with, or whatever. And i also hear your frustration that folks on this aarp community site are not responding super fast. 

I'm about your age, will be 59 in August. I moved to a radically different part of the country 2 years ago to be with a new partner, and since i did that, i've learned a few things about making friends. I'm wondering if any of my experiences might be helpful to you as you look for companionship: locally and not on a national board like the aarp community. Also, could you tell us more about where you are? or does that matter? It sounds like you're willing to move.

     You are a veteran, a young one, so maybe a gulf war vet, or something, and you are disable so you get a veteran's pension and maybe social security as well. It's great that you have an income; i bet it is also a modest one. Sounds like you can do most everything, very handy guy! despite your disability, so that's awesome.  Since you're a veteran, is there a social group near you that gathers? Is there a VFW (or is that mostly much older guys and the occasional guy?)   Perhaps you've tried to engage with other veterans at your local VA Hospital, or other veterans organizations. Any luck?

         I am a therapist in a very rural county and i have seen several veterans, still see two. Most have PTSD. And we are 2 hours from the nearest VA so they get to see me through the Triwest Choice program. One of the things they bring up a lot is feeling lonely. No matter what kind of veteran you are, what you did or where you went, there's a feeling that no one outside of the military has a clue about your experience. Their disabilities tend to be psychological and some physical as well. We work on strategies for calming themselves when a panic attack happens. My psychiatric colleague gives them prozasin and antidepressants to help with nightmares. And then they go out from my office to engage with the world again, and try to escape it most of the time. This place is so rural they succeed.

       When i moved out here, i joined the volunteer organization that helps raise funds for the school, for flags on the tombstones in the town cemetary, and for spraying of mosquitos. We even have a Mosquito Festival to help pay for it. Is there any organization that you'd like to volunteer for? Is there a local library? Is there a skill you could teach young people, like welding or carpentry?  If you could hook into something voluntarily, you'll make acquaintances, feel useful, and perhaps get into a social circle that will eventually lead to connection, companionship, etc.

       That's one thought.

        I see that one of your posts expressed frustration with this process, and the community, and you called the enterprise a 'pos'.  I wish it was easier to make friends, find companions. The thing is, people can smell desperation. Which is why joining a social group or volunteering, might help you to link up with people WITHOUT the pressure of desperation. Does that make sense?  It's kind of like trying to be happy. Its a  hard goal to head for straight away. But if we are useful, and socialable, and helpful, dependable, trustworthy, find joy in a hobby... happiness will sneak up on you.

      If you feel isolated, connecting with other folks near where you are now may be both enjoyable and more effective at finding the companionship you seek....

      So, i responded. Tell us more about you? Does anything i suggested make sense?

      I sincerely wish you all the best, Phil. And please respond. 

 

Jane

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@bd8344 wrote:

I thought I was reading my own story. lol.  I am a 62 year old divorced female with no children.  That is the biggest reason that I am divorced. It was my ex-spouses way or no way and I could no longer live like that because that did not include children.  He would not even discuss it when I approached him.  That's okay that is his loss and my gain.  He has since remarried but it was like he was trying to replace me because the new wife looks just like me when he left.  (I wonder how she would feel about that? lol.)   Both my parents and all my aunt and uncles are gone now, and my siblings are each more than 10 years my senior and we do not have much of a relationship.  It started out as I did not want to be around them because they did not treat me right.  Now one is so paranoid they do not want any one except our eldest sibling, their children, grand-children and current spouse around them. And the other one will go to visit the one closest in age to them but not me.  That's okay because I have decided that when they call me to help them when they get to the point they need more help than just their children to help, I am not going because of how bad they treated me.  I had to put someone down as emergency contact in case of an emergency but neither one thinks I should and act as though they will not be there for me if anything happens.  I am currently trying to figure out what I am going to have to do to make sure my last requests are carried out as I want and not the way someone else thinks it should be.  Since I have not remarried and do not have many real close friends any longer that live close by, I really do not know what I am going to do.  I figure all I can do is to live my life the best I can and accomplish what I can and not live my life with regrets.


Hey BD. 

I am sorry that your siblings were unkind to you when you all were younger. You could take the high road when one of them calls upon you, if they do. And perhaps one of them has a child, who'd be a niece or nephew to you, who could then be a help to you when you need someone to speak on your behalf.  When i was a geriatric care manager, for the childless folks it was usually a nephew or niece who took charge. But the quality of the relationship makes all the difference. A callous relative isn't as good as a sincere friend.  

 

So, you're going to build some friendships and strengthen the old ones even though they're far away, right? You'll have to be intentional about it. Do you have a faith community?  Even if you're agnostic, there's always the Unitarians. They are the most welcoming denomination anywhere, and you don't have to check your intellect at the door. Get to know some folks, make some friends, be useful, and when the time comes, you'll have a couple of people to rely on. Maybe?  Or, join a volunteer crew at the local library... any place you have an interest? Go to the local yarn store and learn to knit. 

 

I relocated across the continent about 2 years ago, and although i moved here for my partner, so i had her, thanks be to God, i really had to work to make friends. Because people don't know they need you in their lives by late middle age. They think they have all the friends they need!  I had to charm them! So, i joined the local volunteer group. I slowly asked a few women whether they'd agree to take walks with me since i need the exercise. I'm also volunteering to take library books up county or down county, and so i'm getting to know librarians, who are always smart people who know the community. I live in a very rural place; 7,500 humans in a county bigger than Connecticut. So, it's taken me a while to figure out the place. I'm a city kid. And left my home of 56 years, only place i really knew. I joined the local church, but the preaching drove me to distraction. Tried a couple of others. Kinda gave up on that. But if this place had more options, i'd belong for sure. Anyway, after 2 years, i think i have a handful of friends. It takes work. And a concentrated effort to BE a good friend before one can earn a good friend.

 

So enough about me. 

 

What is your plan? You have choices. Some people have their attorneys act as financial proxy and health care proxy, but, you know, it's just not the same to have someone you're paying to be your advocate. Love is a better motivator. I am sure you have people who love you. 

 

This is a good place to lay out your thoughts if you want to. I'd love to 'hear' them. And i'm not going to judge. We're all doing the best we can.

 

Share more?

with every good wish for you,

jane

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Try to find a church home if you can it is a wonderful source of companionship and activities for all ages.  Plus, you can select your Pastor as the contact person in case something happens and at our age (I'm 67) the only thing they'd need to know is if I died since they would be burying me and having my service. Write down what you want done and the church members will take care of it; that's why it's called a church home.  🙂  Good luck!  Sending prayers of support and happiness your way. 

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@citygal226 My heart goes out to you! Isolation can be very damaging to our health and wellbeing. It sounds like you are very resourceful and have done some GREAT things as an advocate for yourself - applying for paratransit (hope that works out that will help a lot I'm sure!), using online resources for grocery delivery, and Freshly for meals - fantastic! 

 

I'm sorry to hear about your sibling, as I'm sure she was an important contact with you. Is there any chance you two could talk and set aside differences going forward? Family is just so important as life moves on. Maybe a counselor or family mediator could help? 

 

Have you thought about any of these options?

  • Volunteering - you might contact your local volunteer center, community center, Boys and Girls Clubs, homeless shelter, area agency on aging or senior center and ask about volunteer opportunities. If getting out and around is hard for you, there may be volunteer roles you can play from home - on the phone as a friendly check-in either with older adults or children. Some areas have after school programs where volunteers talk on the phone with the children and even help them with homework. AARP has volunteering information - click HERE.
  • Support groups can be a great way to connect with other people who are having similar challenges - it's socialization but helpful also! Many times people make great friends through their support groups. The American Lunch Association has Better Breathers Clubs for those with COPD. You can find an online support community HERE. And there are also in person support groups - look HERE.

So glad you posted her in the AARP online community - let us know how you are doing and how else we can help! 

 

 

Take care,
Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert
Regular Contributor

Oh how I hate it when I make that typo between "an" and "and"!!!

 

Yes, I did get approved for paratransit and looking forward to using it soon. It's cheaper than a Lyft ride to/from the doctor's office. I'll be getting my first Freshly delivery this coming Fri. My fellow senior friend has been very pleased with the meals, quality, and variety.

 

My sibling/sister and I were NEVER close, so I won't miss having her in my life. She is toxic. We've had problems before over the years. She is just someone I never liked, and never felt love for. Probably very strange for most people to understand. But it happens. No, I don't think a counselor/mediator would help at all. I think we will ONLY ever interact if we absolutely have to, to help our mother. Otherwise, I don't even want to be in the same room with her, and I have informed my mother of that.

 

As for volunteering - Until 2014, I was a big-time volunteer! In Chicago until I moved to Las Vegas in 2011, then in LV until my health started to decline and transportation became an issue. Now that I've moved back, I'm in the South burbs with no nearbyopportunities and I don't have the energy/stamina. I really miss the face-to-face interaction with people that I had as a "public contact" volunteer. I have considered virtual opportunities that I've seen on VolunteerMatch.com but just haven'tfollowed up.

 

American "Lunch" Association? That was HILARIOUS! Guess I'm not the only one who makes unintentional typos! Yes, I have signed up at the Am. LUNG Assoc. but forgot about them. I never get any email from them so I'm not sure it's an active group. But I'll visit them again soon. I've joined a few other COPD online support groups, too. It helps a lot to know there are Kindred Spirits out there.

 

Still, there's this other large issue of being an Elder (Female) Orphan. What are WE supposed to do???

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Hi CityGal, 

I hear you when you ask: "Still, there's this other large issue of being an Elder (Female) Orphan. What are WE supposed to do???"   There are some amazing resources on the AARP site which you've been directed to. You've been tenacious and creative about how to live your life now within your limitations with the aim of the best quality of life. Way to go. We all have to do that now and in the future. 

 

I have been a social worker a loooooooooong time, and i have a couple of thoughts. Always glad to hear what you've worked out, too. One idea: call up the area agency on aging that covers your area. There are services free to anyone 60 and over. You find your agency by putting in your zip code into www.eldercare.gov. Ask someone to pay a home visit, and pick their brains. South Chicago might have a program at some church somewhere that might be a perfect addition to your situation. You never know and it costs nothing to try. 

 

Another thought. I once worked on a project to inform people with COPD and i learned about pulmonary rehab. Dunno if your pulmonologist has mentioned it and maybe you're not eligible, but what the heck,again, worth asking. 

 

Given your 'orphan' status, I bet you've given thought to things like designating someone (one of your friends?) as health care power of attorney. And maybe you need to have someone have access to your finances, to pay bills if you are temporarily incapacitated. Someone to manage the practical issues if you're hospitalized with pneumonia, which is unfortunately more common for people with COPD. Of course you'd have to trust this person deeply. And if there's no one you can think of who'd be good at managing your money, then an attorney might be a good person to talk to. The health care proxy is another decision: who do you tell your wishes to, now, so they can advocate for you when you can't speak for yourself?

 

Some deep stuff here. 

 

What do you think?  One thing at a time, one step at a time...

 

Thank you for your candor. Love to hear more. We're all figuring this out together...

 

Jane

 

 

 

 

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Hi Jane! Thanks for your response, advice, and support. I've already been checking into some senior options through the Illinois Dept of Aging and some local community resources. I got a really good intro to this arena a few years ago for my mother, especially after she had back surgery then a stroke a year later.

 

Re my COPD - I haven't managed it as well as I should have because of insurance issues. I see a Nurse Practitioner about every 3-6 months when I need an extension for my BP or inhaler meds. She has referred me at least twice to a pulmo and a cardio specialist for tests. Long story short - at this point I'm just one month away from Medicare coverage/insurance so I'm biding my time.

 

As for a designated "proxy" - I have a half-sister in FL that I'm very close with. We've talked in the past and I already told her that I want her to take care of my affairs, and she agreed. Just a few weeks ago I was talking with a long-time local friend and she offered to be my Emergency Contact and would contact my FL sister if need be. I gave them each other's contact info. I've already filled out the Financial/Property POA form and working on the Health POA. Still need to snag someone to sign off as a witness. I want to donate my body for science/medical research but I don't meet the weight/BMI requirement.. I've already signed up for organ donation. Again, my thinking is very practical - when I expire, I don't need the body nor the organs anymore. If someone else can use them for research or to extend someone else's life, so be it! It's recycling at its best! But meanwhile, I'm very aware that I still need to at least maintain myself as best I can. I didn't foresee that I would not be able to get out and about like I used to, so I'm grappling with that. And I'm trying to do this "remote baby-sitting" of my mother while juggling my own chainsaws.

 

Thanks for listening/reading. It's good for me to know I'm not the only one! 🙂

 

Cheers,

Deena

 

 

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Hey Deena, 

     Wow you are really on the ball! You are clearly working that marvelous brain of yours to figure out every angle and the best course of action. Excellent. That's what we all need to do, especially when brains are good but the body is not so good. More power to you!  

     this aarp discussion group on caregiving is really a godsend to so many. free and convenient: you put out a question or a challenge, and you get some great ideas over the next few days. 

     I do hope you can hook up more locally with supports and resources that sustain you. I'm very glad you have a good local friend, and the sister in FL. I live in very rural oregon, so rural that the health designation is called 'frontier'. My sister lives in urban philadelphia. She's my POA, but she's 2500 miles away. i have a local best friend and so i am good, as you are. and i'm still working although i can see retirement from here.

      so glad to know you, even just a little. Carry on and don't be a stranger!

 

Jane

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@citygal226wrote:

Oh how I hate it when I make that typo between "an" and "and"!!!

 

Yes, I did get approved for paratransit and looking forward to using it soon. It's cheaper than a Lyft ride to/from the doctor's office. I'll be getting my first Freshly delivery this coming Fri. My fellow senior friend has been very pleased with the meals, quality, and variety.

 

My sibling/sister and I were NEVER close, so I won't miss having her in my life. She is toxic. We've had problems before over the years. She is just someone I never liked, and never felt love for. Probably very strange for most people to understand. But it happens. No, I don't think a counselor/mediator would help at all. I think we will ONLY ever interact if we absolutely have to, to help our mother. Otherwise, I don't even want to be in the same room with her, and I have informed my mother of that.

 

As for volunteering - Until 2014, I was a big-time volunteer! In Chicago until I moved to Las Vegas in 2011, then in LV until my health started to decline and transportation became an issue. Now that I've moved back, I'm in the South burbs with no nearbyopportunities and I don't have the energy/stamina. I really miss the face-to-face interaction with people that I had as a "public contact" volunteer. I have considered virtual opportunities that I've seen on VolunteerMatch.com but just haven'tfollowed up.

 

American "Lunch" Association? That was HILARIOUS! Guess I'm not the only one who makes unintentional typos! Yes, I have signed up at the Am. LUNG Assoc. but forgot about them. I never get any email from them so I'm not sure it's an active group. But I'll visit them again soon. I've joined a few other COPD online support groups, too. It helps a lot to know there are Kindred Spirits out there.

 

Still, there's this other large issue of being an Elder (Female) Orphan. What are WE supposed to do???


CityGal226,

You are not alone, 1 in 5 Americans over the age of 65 are at risk of becoming an elder orphan. Here are some tips for planning ahead if you don't have a family caregiver. READ HERE.

 

And HERE's a thread within this community talking about elder orphans. 

 

Please keep in touch!

AARPJen
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@citygal226,  I changed the "and" to "an" for you.  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

 

Sandy

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I am 70 yrs. Old, no siblings, no children,  some very distant cousins older than myself, and live a thousand miles away whom I didnot interact with even when I was 10 yrs old and no contact for over 60 yrs.  I believe that loneliness and being alone,  are different in that one can have lots of people near by, but have no deep connection to oneself despite any efforts on one's part. I chose to live in a delightful retirement community, lots of activities, exercise, and green space, but everyone seems to have children/grandchildren  and making any deep connection at this age has proven to be difficult if not hopeless. On the surface, I am sociable,  engaging, but don't feel I have anybody that I could share my deepest thoughts, ideas, feelings. Plus, I am a bit of a frees spirit who lacks a real, special, loyal companion(s) to connect to daily, travel with, etc. Is there any help for me?  I want to feel special to someone who shows it, and vice versa. Thank-you  Barbara

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