How ‘Elder Orphans’ Can Plan for the Future


As we live longer and society’s structure evolves, some of us will face the challenge of aging without a family member or designated caretaker looking after our needs. This emerging group is known as “elder orphans,” and it’s only going to get bigger over time.

That’s for a couple of reasons. One is that almost a third of Americans ages 45 to 63 are single. Another is that the current generation may be the first to have parents routinely outliving their children, given that childhood obesity rates for kids born between 1966 and 1985 are much higher than in the past, which can lead to medical issues, such as diabetes and stroke, in middle age.

It may be difficult to think about being an elder orphan, but you can make it less scary by preparing in advance. Here’s what you should do now:

  • Build a network. It’s important to be surrounded by people you can count on. Most older Americans are cared for by a spouse or child, but your support system could include other relatives, neighbors and friends. Take a class or join a club to meet like-minded people. 
  • Make a plan for your long-term living situation. Ask yourself: Can your current home accommodate you as you age and lose some mobility? Would you prefer to live somewhere walkable so driving isn’t an issue? Would living in a senior community provide you with more social opportunities?
  • Get your finances in order. Without children or a partner to help with things like housework, errands and home repairs, you may need to hire help for some tasks. Now is the time to save. Long-term care insurance could be a good idea—this can help pay for things like aides, medical equipment and assisted living. Meet with a financial adviser to find out if it’s right for you.
  • Create advance directives. These documents, such as a living will and durable power of attorney for healthcare, make sure that your wishes related to your health are known to others. You should designate a surrogate you trust who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you lose the ability to do so.

Rosa Memoria: The Rose of Memories

Don’t miss the chance to enjoy new blossoms in your garden this year! Lutheran Medical Center Foundation and Lutheran Hospice are proud to offer the Rosa Memoria™—or Rose of Memories—for Mother’s Day 2018.

This unique own-root rose was specially cultivated and trademarked for Lutheran with help from the Denver Botanic Gardens. With soft, flat white petals and fern-like evergreen leaves, this white rose is the perfect gift for Mother’s Day or as an accompaniment to any garden. It is adaptable to Colorado’s cold winters, dry summers and high altitudes—growing up to five feet tall with dark purple hips in the fall. Your white rose is sure to attract pollinators from miles around as the blossoms unveil their beauty from May through June.

Plants will be available for a donation to support Lutheran Hospice:

  • $25 donation—one gallon plant
  • $50 donation—five gallon plant

Plants can be reserved April 1 through May 4, with roses available for pickup on May 12. Call 303-467-4800 for more information or to place your name on our rose reservation list. 

Limited quantities will be available and larger plants sell fast. Reserve your Rosa Memoria today!