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Unbefriended Elderly (ABA term)

It is time to talk about seniors who face aging without family or friends or individual representatives trusted by them to provide their future care. There is no one to make medical, financial, and legal decisions when the senior cannot do so any more.  It is not just health care decisions.  AARP just had an article about dementia and financial decision-making.


The American Bar Association's Commission on Law and Aging has been discussing the legal ramifications for "the unbefriended elderly" since 2004.  Recently, there was a presentation on Surrogate Health Care Decision-Making for Unbefriended Patients: “Attention Must Be Paid." 


Has anyone established a "care committee?"  Are your state laws supportive?


I am asking that this discussion board consider this growing problem among the boomer generation.  I am also asking that AARP apply its mission and values to bring this issue to the forefront of policy makers.


So where do those of us who are without family - or friends - go to get help? Does anybody know? Every agency I've reached out to, local, state and federal has been silent, no reply or responses.

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Hi, I would like to know this one myself. I am alone and my children have their own life and far away. So what do i do here alone but two caregivers i see once a week for four hours each?   i have hard time with info, mail, business, new with medicare that no one helps me with, im so confused.. i have some tbi's..

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Bronze Conversationalist

@kri428 wrote:

So where do those of us who are without family - or friends - go to get help? Does anybody know? Every agency I've reached out to, local, state and federal has been silent, no reply or responses.

There was an excellent article in September in the NYTimes about this very term, and experience: 
The term 'unbefriended' does sound pretty forlorn. But to have a friend who is willing to take on your decision-making when you cannot, and handle your affairs, and take all that on... many SPOUSES are unwilling... It's a lot.  
As a geriatric care manager, i became the person hired by a legal guardian, assigned to an unbefriended person by the court (who acts because the adult protective services has gotten involved). And i did everything for that person. Took the cat to the vet. Buy groceries online to be delivered. Arranged for plumbers if they lived at home, and new clothes if they lived in a locked dementia unit.
Here are some suggestions:
1. think about a small group of friends. I think maybe that's where the 'care committee' idea comes from, so that one friend isn't so burdened. these folks should be younger than you are. 
2. perhaps that means make friends with younger folks.
3. where does one do that? by volunteering? by joining  a worship community? heck there are worship communities for even atheists: ethical societies. Join. Have it be a part of your life. make friends with younger people. eventually, put together a small group.
4. move into a cohousing community where there are multiple generations. google it. great idea.
5. move into an area that has a 'village' concept.
6. some folks name their attorneys as guardians. they're pricey, they don't do this work for love, but if you have money, they'll be honest, and if you're lucky, they'll hire a geriatric care manager to make sure you're getting good care.
7. do you have nieces or nephews? i have a number of patients now (in hospice care) who's primary caregiver is a niece. Be nice to them NOW. Cultivate a relationship. Perhaps take an interest in their kids, and donate to their kids' college fund. 
Because you want someone who cares about you to direct your care. You can hire help, but no matter how dedicated the lawyer is, or even the social worker, they won't care deeply because they can't. they're professionals. 
what ideas have you all come up with?


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Honored Social Butterfly

The American Bar Association's been talking about it since 2004 .. so what have they come up with in 10+ years?


This is a very common discussion right here in "Singles Perspective Revisited", because some of us don't have a spouse, children or siblings.


One thing I wouldn't want is a "committee" handling my affairs; how do they make the decisions, how long does it take, and who's ultimately responsible? When I had 2 elderly relatives needing care, it was a lot easier & faster making decisions by myself.


PS - I dislike the term "Unbefriended"! You can have lots of friends, but that doesn't mean they want to assume responsibility for your life, or that you trust them enough to do that!

Registered on Online Community since 2007!

So now what? have you found anything???? any help at all for us? thanks
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