Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Elder Orphans, Solo Agers and More

A couple of quick notes:  You should see a few changes as I update my sidebars as I add some new bloggers and websites. Some have the same perspective as I, some do not. Also, in the future I'll be commenting on positive change and protest as much as possible for those of us wondering how to deal with the current morality. And finally, on Wednesdays, (tomorrow), Ill be adding a third blog post a week that is mainly photos. Last but not least, prior to writing this missive, I spent some time phoning one of my senators to let him know that he chose the party line over his constituents (Colorado is very blue, and he phone calls were five to one against) when voted to approve DeVos.  He'll pay for that election time in this state for sure!!!

Those of us in the boomer/retirement zone are an extremely varied dynamic. Some of us are married, some of us are not. Some of us were never married, some of us are widows and widowers. Some are divorced. Some have kids, some do not. Some are traditional marriages and some are same gender relationships. Some are caring for parents, and some are not. Some of us have extended families and some have small core family situations. Some of us are connected fully with our kids if we have them, and some are not.

The truth is that there are wide variances in boomers and retirees. And that's without beginning to discuss geographical differences, economic differences, heritage and attitudes and all the other things that make us all different.

Were we to look at commercials and general articles or photos about retirement, it would seem that all of us are one half of a couple, with grand kids and sometimes an elderly parent to care for. While many of us fit into this traditional demographic, many do not. 

Because of these differences in family structure, pundits and writers are constantly coming up with descriptors for different retirement groups.  For example, recently I learned the phrase "Elder Orphan" while visiting another blog. An Elder Orphan is one who has no spouse/partner,  adult children or companion to rely on. This group is increasing as people make differing lifestyle choices that may not necessarily include a spouse  or having kids or include a divorce. In fact, there is now an Elder Orphan Facebook group. The largest concerns that I see currently for those folks aging alone have to do with transportation (if I have outpatient surgery or if I am sick, who will drive me), Affordable housing, and the legal side of care issues.  Now, 29 percent of retirees and seniors not in facilities live alone.  I personally fall into this group although I am not an elder orphan. I also am not a "solo ager", a term I found while exploring the website Next Avenue.

A Solo Ager, is, as I understand it is someone who does not have childrejn. They may be married or not married, depending. Apparently, one in five of us do not have adult children to support us as we age. In a childless marriage, one partner is often left behind, we no spouse and no other family support. These numbers will also increase, as more and more people choose to remain childless. This group may also include those who are estranged from parents or children in their lives.

While I not big on labels per se, labels and qualifiers like the ones above do help us realize that retirement is not only about couples with kids and grand kids. Not even close. That demographic becomes a smaller part of retirement year after year.

Personally, I don't fit into either of the above categories, but like many others, probably somewhere just out the lines, or in the center if one were to use a good old Venn diagram. I am single (widowed). I have children, but one is not close enough to help me with day to day things (she would come if I had, say, major surgery), and another offspring is looking to move out of the area. While I may move closer to my kids eventually right now they are not permanently "settled", so that may not be the best option in an immediate sense.

Just as we are not a one size fits all group as retirees, I expect there is no one sized solution for our various circumstances.  And if there were, I am certainly no expert on what those options necessarily would be.  Looking ahead for myself though, there are certain things I can do for myself that can make my later years both easier for myself and make reliance on others (children and friends) less immediate or necessary.  For example, at this point my children a free spirits, and relying on the fact that the will live in the place they are now is unrealistic. However, I have planned for one more downsize (that or a 50/50 snowbird split) that would probably move me closer to one child as I age.

I also live with another retiree and have for lack of a better word, developed some "family relationships". I have some other retirees within my church and social groups on whom I could rely to bring me food if I were ill, drive me home after a colonoscopy, or simply provide emotional support. I will fully admit that this took some effort after my recent move, and that belonging to a church made a difference in this area.

I also adjusted my "home footprint" so that I can afford help for those things that others might rely on a spouse or adult child to help with. I do this both because independence is my thing, and because at this point in their lives both of my children have schedules that involve working full time, going to school full time. I choose to rely on them only when it is absolutely necessary. The end result of that of course is that when it is absolutely necessary my overworked, underpaid offspring and their partners will do what's needed. At this point in my life, I don't need them to shovel the walk, drive me places or other things. And finally, because I'm a widow and my offspring are not close, I have all the legal stuff done. If I were to have an accident or become ill, my wishes are clear to anyone. 

And my demographic? Single/widowed early retirement boomer with one independent far away child, one almost independent who will move away soon, but with other family, friends and neighbors who abound. Is there a word for that?

15 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Not one person on Trump's team is liklely to deliver anything at all to the 'forgotten Americans'. And that is why we protest his choices.

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    2. And I would be the first to admit that you cannot protest everything. Right now I feel education and immigration to be two danger areas, so that is where I concentrate.

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    3. We are "solo agers," which is a new term to me. Part of our plan may include a continuing-care community, which will help take up some of the slack. This is something I suspect will have to be addressed as we Boomers get older. The healthcare community especially thinks that everyone has family to take care of them. Not necessarily so ...

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  2. My Nana , widowed at 48, did have a "room mate" for about ten years. Mrs D lived on the right side of the house and Nana on the left. They shared the kitchen and utility bills. Mrs D passed away before Nana- leaving Nana on her own. My close friend plans on such an arrangement. Her house will be paid off and she feels that a roommate will keep things together.
    My sister is a solo widow. She has chosen co housing as her retirement structure. Took awhile to adjust, but I think it is a good plan.
    I look forward to robots driving my car and turning me in bed when I am in my 80's. I think I will look back at this time and say, "I cannot imagine how my mom did it!" The problem is, I hope that I have saved enough to have those robots!

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    1. Robots, that's one solution. I am in a sharing situation now, but can see myself downsizing tolive alone at some time as long as others are near. We'll see.

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  3. I wonder if there is a word for what you describe in your last paragraph. I think transportation needs loom high for any single retirees.

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    1. Yes, Terra, for me I expect transportation to be the primary issue. I have family and friends I trust with the legal stuff and am open to different housing issues, but as I drive less (not now but as I age) and need assistance at appointments and such..

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  4. I'm divorced, no children and don't drive. I moved to an area where the limited public transportation stopped for the recession and never started again. That one bus was enough to get to the next city where there is almost ample public transportation.
    My closest friend moved to Atlanta, the friends that lived here full time now rent out their house as we're at the beach and AirBnB is big here. I have somehow made great friends including a next door neighbor I know I could call at 3 AM but would save that for a giant emergency.
    I'm very independent. Perhaps to a fault. When I have cataract surgery next month I will take a cab but I'm close to the cab company owners and the wife will drive me and back
    A group of friends and I have thought about bowing a large lot, building a house where we could have communal meals when we want, congregate and rent out rooms. We would build individual "pods." That's one idea.
    My closest friend asked me to move in with her in Atlanta. For many reasons I don't think that's a great idea but am toying with the idea of moving to Atlanta where her entire family lives and I'm close to them
    I went back to school in my early 40's to become a geriatric social worker. Part of the reason I did this was because I wanted to learn about and become involved with alternative housing for older people. Nobody wanted to discuss this. There were no classes in it, and I was discouraged from doing an independent study in that one area. Now everyone wants to talk about it.
    While transportation is a very big issue, and I'm very content on my own I know the importance of staying stimulated--and the easiest way is by living with or near people who stimulate you. yes there are classes, volunteer work etc but (and this sounds incredibly selfish) I enjoy just being with people I like. My jobs always entailed "helping" and while they called for high levels of education were never high paying--and sometimes I just want to sit back and smell the coffee.
    I think you hit upon a lot of very important points in this post

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    1. You might want to check out
      http://www.milagrocohousing.org/

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  5. I don't think there's any one word coined yet that applies to you. You're simply what I am -- a widow, living in place -- at least for you it's possibly temporary since you expect to move close to one of your children. I plan to continue living in place. Though I don't expect or plan to move closer to my children, I don't rule it out completely, should unknown future circumstances indicate such a move would be best.

    Assessing the services where I live became very much a gradual ongoing process for me many years ago, long before I stopped working. So, I had some idea whether my needs could be met in a worst case scenario, of if aging decline could cause me to be less independent, to need more assistance and help. One benefit for me is the increase of Boomers to the older retirement community. More services, more transportation, more senior support has been added in my community which I imagine is true in many others, or could be started (as it was here) if there are those who want to stay where they are but recognize individuals like themselves may need/want access to more services in the future. Don't wait until the need arises -- it's too late.
    Get involved with your city -- a senior community group, if none, can be beneficial.

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  6. I don't think there's any one word coined yet that applies to you. You're simply what I am -- a widow, living in place -- at least for you it's possibly temporary since you expect to move close to one of your children. I plan to continue living in place. Though I don't expect or plan to move closer to my children, I don't rule it out completely, should unknown future circumstances indicate such a move would be best.

    Assessing the services where I live became very much a gradual ongoing process for me many years ago, long before I stopped working. So, I had some idea whether my needs could be met in a worst case scenario, of if aging decline could cause me to be less independent, to need more assistance and help. One benefit for me is the increase of Boomers to the older retirement community. More services, more transportation, more senior support has been added in my community which I imagine is true in many others, or could be started (as it was here) if there are those who want to stay where they are but recognize individuals like themselves may need/want access to more services in the future. Don't wait until the need arises -- it's too late.
    Get involved with your city -- a senior community group, if none, can be beneficial.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What's more, if a movement police implicate you with an activity case, then kindly don't begin thinking as though you are a criminal. Elder Law

    ReplyDelete
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