Elder orphans, those without family members, are often the most neglected and vulnerable part of society who need the appropriate care, support, and guidance. Without family caregivers, elder orphans can become extremely lonely and isolated, or have to give up their independence a lot sooner.

According to Maria Torroella Carney, Chief of geriatric and palliative medicine at Northwell Health of Great Neck, N.Y., More than 1 in 5 Americans older than 65 are — or are at risk of becoming — elder orphans. And 23 percent of boomers will eventually be without family caretakers.

Having to go into a nursing home is a hard decision and can make an elder orphan feel institutionalized. So how do you age in place for as long as possible as an elder orphan?

Create social and support networks

If you don’t already have a support network of friends, to at least help with the isolation side of aging alone, then now is the time to build that up. There are Facebook groups dedicated to elder orphans which you can join for support. Also consider joining local clubs, volunteering, or something else that will help you make new connections. Elderly friends may not be able to become your primary caregiver, but together you may be able to help each other with smaller items, such as a meal when ill, or even just be there for each other.

New Horizons Senior Center in Narberth, Montgomery County, PA is a great place to go and make new friends. They run a host of activities to keep older adults feeling young, active, fulfilled, productive, and proud.

Consider your current home

Now is the time to assess where you live. Will you still be able to climb the stairs, or will you need a stairlift? Will the garden be too big to maintain? Can you walk to local shops with ease? Moving to an easier location may help you stay in your home longer.

Look at in home-care services

Hiring a home-care agency, such as Americare Main Line can help you stay in your home longer. From support with chores through to companionship, just a little bit of help can be the difference between feeling isolated and struggling to cope and living independently.

Get your paperwork in order

It’s not nice, but think about who will make decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. If you don’t have a good friend that can do that for you, look at who else could, such as someone in your church, your doctor, or your family lawyer.  Plan out your will and make sure that all legal documents are easily accessible.

At Americare Main Line we care greatly about elder orphans and helping them stay independent for as long as possible. Speak to us if you worried about how’ll age in place.