When we hear the word “orphan,” we usually think of children. However, many older adults can be considered elder orphans. We may also hear these individuals referred to as “solo agers.” Elder orphans are those who do not have a spouse or children that they can depend on, while solo agers are older adults who live alone and do not have any children. Here, we want to discuss the growing concern about caring for elder orphans, solo agers, as well as how elder abuse factors into these situations. According to a recent medical study, approximately 22% of all adults in the United States can be considered solo agers or elder orphans, or are at risk of becoming one of the two.
Concerns for Elder Orphans and Solo Agers
First, we need to clear up any confusion about the difference between an elder orphan and a solo ager. An elder orphan is defined as somebody who has no spouse or children on whom they can depend on. This does not mean they do not have a spouse or child at all, just that these individuals cannot be turned to or do not want to help.
A solo ager, however, is an older adult without children who lives alone. These are individuals who, for whatever reason, did not have children. This is becoming much more common, as many people are choosing to focus on their careers and or personal lives as opposed to having children.
The concerns for both elder orphans and solo agers are closely aligned. Dr. Maria Carney says that the group of elder orphans and solo agers “…is an often overlooked, poorly understood group that needs more attention from the medical community.”
In a recent online media survey, approximately 70% of elderly people said that they had not identified a caregiver who could help if they became ill or disabled. 35% of respondents said that they did not have any friends or family to help them cope with life’s challenges.
Risk Factors for Abuse
Unfortunately, elder abuse is much more common in the United States than most people realize. Even those who do have a strong support system can become victims of elder abuse, particularly when family members have to rely on nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or an in-home caregiver to help care for their loved one.
Elder orphans and solo agers face an increased risk of elder abuse. This includes:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional and psychological abuse
- Financial exploitation
Elder orphans and solo agers essentially do not have anybody to check on them and be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of abuse. Even when an elder orphan or solo ager is mentally competent and able to recognize that they are suffering from abuse, they may be hesitant to report this abuse out of feelings of shame or fear that they will not be believed.
Get Help from a Riverside Elder Abuse Lawyer
If you are an elderly adult suffering from abuse, or if you know an elderly adult that you suspect is suffering from abuse, you should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. You can count on Riverside elder abuse attorney Joel Bryant to help you through these situations. Attorney Bryant has extensive experience handling elder abuse cases throughout California and has the resources necessary to conduct a complete investigation in order to determine liability. Any person guilty of elder abuse must be held accountable for their actions.