February 4

How to Combat Isolation as an Elder Orphan

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Are you aging alone without friends or family nearby to help you?

Aging alone is scary. You don’t have anyone to assist you with daily tasks or rides to the doctor when you can’t drive yourself. Medical emergencies are disasters waiting to happen. There’s no one around to take you to the hospital, and what if you are injured badly enough you can’t get out of bed for weeks or months? Who is going to take care of you, who is going to cook and clean? 

33% of Adults 65+ and 57% of adults 85+ live alone.”

You must establish a support system to fall back on when you need help. Keep reading to learn how you can combat isolation by creating a support system for yourself.

How to Combat Isolation as an Elder Orphan

Elder orphans are adults age 55 or older that are living alone without friends or family to support them. Women without children are at the most risk of becoming elder orphans later in life. Women live longer than men on average and find themselves aging alone as widows. They might not have any siblings, or their siblings have already passed. 

Men who have no children are also at risk. They could lose their spouses first and end up in the same situation. Men and women who have chosen not to marry and never had children are at the highest risk of becoming elder orphans.

Do any of these situations sound familiar to you? If so, you are not alone. Let us show you how to create a support system so you can get the help you need when you need it most.

1. Get to Know Your Neighbors

Do you live in an apartment or house with neighbors close by? Introduce yourself and get to know them. Bake them a cake or take them a fruit basket to break the ice. Neighbors are an excellent resource for rides and assistance in a pinch.

Tell them about your situation and ask if they would mind helping you in the event of an emergency. Offer to help them in some way in return, so it’s not one-sided.

Be prepared to give them gas money if they are willing to give you rides. Do they have pets or small kids? Offer to babysit, or dog sit if they ever need it. Don’t forget to thank them for taking the time out of their busy day to talk to you.

2. Start a Hobby

Hobbies help you pass the time and are an excellent way to make new friends. Take up crocheting, knitting, chess, puzzles, bingo, golf, writing, or any other hobby you like.

Check local event calendars for meetups with others who enjoy your interests. Attend group meetings consistently and participate in activities.

Even if you don’t make a new best friend, you’ll be a part of a group of people that expect to see you at every meeting. If a medical emergency strikes and you don’t show up, members of the group are going to notice you’re missing. Let them know you live alone ahead of time and consider asking them to check up on you if you don’t show up one day. 

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3. Go to Church

Are you religious? Become an active member of one of the churches close to you. You’ll meet plenty of new people this way, and it gives you something to look forward to. Attend services regularly, so people expect to see you, as mentioned above.

Make friends with other seniors that are in similar situations as yourself. You can be extremely beneficial to each other. Offer assistance and agree to call and check up on one another if either of you misses a service. Participate in the events your church hosts so you can spend more time getting to know the members and making friends.

4. Participate in Community Activities

Does your community host activities frequently? Depending on where you live, you can find lots of activities to enjoy that get you socializing with other people. Craft fairs, fishing tournaments, kayaking events, fun runs, or concerts are all excellent opportunities to meet others and make friends.

You’ll likely notice that the same people attend these events habitually.

Do you like to work out? Most community centers have gym equipment on-site that you can use for free or for a small fee. Strike up conversations while you’re exercising, and you might even find a new workout buddy.

Recommended Reading: Ask the Expert: Utilizing Care Managers for Extra Support

5. Get A Roommate

Are you unable to drive or participate in physical activities? A roommate might be a perfect fit for you. Find someone that would benefit from helping you around the house and give you rides in exchange for room and board. College students are great candidates for this type of situation. It’s hard for them to make a living and go to school at the same time. Giving you the occasional lift and helping cook or clean is a small price to pay for room and board.

Not comfortable with inviting a college student to move in? Seek out someone your age that is in a similar situation, but with different needs.

For example, you can’t drive, but they can or vice versa. Make sure to draw up a lease agreement and have them sign it. You need to have it looked over by a licensed lawyer, have them sign it, and then get it notarized. Working out all the details of your arrangement upfront and getting it in writing is crucial if you ever have a disagreement or they wanted to break their lease.

6. Volunteer

Volunteering is rewarding, and you can volunteer in so many different ways. Collect, serve, and prepare food at your local homeless shelter. Help build homes for Habitat for Humanity or participate in clean up events at the park. Join a mentor program and help kids who need a role model in their lives.

Do you have a hobby that can benefit others? Crocheters or knitters can make hats, scarves, blankets, or other items for the homeless.

Not sure how to help? Contact the charities in your community and ask. They are always looking for volunteers to assist with a wide range of tasks.

7. Teach a Class or Become a Tutor

Do you have skills that you want to share with others? Consider teaching a class or becoming a tutor. Community centers often host classes that can benefit the residents. In some cases, they might even pay you.

Do you like to craft? Craft stores like JoAnns and Hobby Lobby let locals sign up to teach classes. They each have requirements, so check with your local store to see what they are.

Are you good at math, language arts, science, or history? Offer your tutoring services to the public and private schools in your area.

8. Participate in Events Hosted by Senior Centers

Senior centers are one of the best ways to meet other elder orphans like yourself. Event calendars are posted on-site, and in most cases, online as well. Browse their events and find ones that you would enjoy attending. Socialize with other attendees and ask them about themselves. You never know whom you might meet or what kind of new relationships you are going to forge.

Recommended Reading: Ask the Expert: Maintaining Independence

9. Join Facebook Groups

Are you stuck at home most days without the ability to leave? Facebook groups are a great resource for meeting people when you can’t drive.

Carol Marak started the Elder Orphans Facebook group to give aging seniors a resource for socializing and seeking help. She keeps her group restricted to adults over the age of 55 who live without assistance from a spouse, partner, or children.

She carefully vets every request for membership to make sure anyone who joins fits that description. Making her group a safe place to meet others is a top priority for her.

10. Seek an Aging Care Manager For Support

Does the idea of socializing and leaving your house feel overwhelming? Are there medical conditions or other factors that make it hard for you to leave the comfort and safety of your home? Incontinence issues, poorly fitting dentures, lack of a ride, or depression and anxiety can all make socializing and running errands challenging or impossible. You want to leave your home and make new friends, but you feel like you just can’t.

“I have been using Jennifer Tyner’s as a care manager in the care of my best friend. Jennifer has been nothing short of a godsend for at least 10 years. She has saved me untold hours on the phone and on the road, as I live out of state. Her expertise has seen me through my friend’s care since she could still live in her own home, to the present late stages of Alzheimer's. My friend is not always an easy person to get along with, and there were a few missteps at the beginning of her care as she rejected a few people completely. 


She, however, took to Jennifer and the caregivers she arranges for me very quickly. Even though she does not always recognize people anymore, she is comfortable with their care. Jennifer saw us through the sale of my friends' house, to choosing a care community, to medical care and simple everyday needs.


As I had promised my friend to keep her in her own home as long as possible and in the area where her social circle is, the decisions that have had to be made over the years would not have allowed me to keep my promise without Jennifer. She is warm, caring, articulate, experienced, and when necessary even clever and tough.


There are not enough words to express my gratitude and good fortune I feel for knowing Jennifer. Your loved one would certainly be fortunate to have her overseeing their care.”


An Aging Care Manager can help. We will assess your situation and help you come up with a plan that fits your unique circumstances. Aging Care Managers can help you get assistance with chores, cooking, rides, and much more. Speak with a member of our compassionate and knowledgeable staff today to get the help you need.

Request a Consultation now, and we’ll help you overcome any obstacles preventing you from creating the support system you so desperately need.

Request a Consultation

Life over 50 is complicated. From illnesses to general aging-related difficulties, there's a lot to learn and a lot to cope with. We understand and we're here to help answer questions and provide guidance on your options.


About the author

Amy Natt, MS, CMC, CSA

President & CEO, Aging Life Care™ Manager

“I am dedicated to working with older adults and their families to maintain dignity and enhance their quality of life.”

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