Kaiser Health News
Phyllis Krantzman knows what she should do, but like many of her peers, the 71-year-old doesn’t know how to approach a casual acquaintance to ask who will take care of her when she needs it most.
Krantzman, of Austin, Texas, is among a growing number of seniors who find themselves alone just when aging and end-of-life care becomes real.
Unmarried, with no children, her younger sister, by seven years, died in 2014. Krantzman’s social network is limited to a handful of work colleagues and a few acquaintances.
“I’m very fearful of when I reach that place in my life when I really need help and maybe can’t take care of myself anymore,” she said. “I have nobody to turn to.”
Krantzman represents a universe that’s come to be known among geriatric specialists as “elder orphans” — seniors with no relatives to help them deal with physical and mental health challenges.
Their rising numbers prompted the American Geriatrics Society this week to unveil guidelines for a segment of these older adults who can no longer make their own medical decisions and have no designated surrogates.
The nonprofit dubbed them “unbefriended” and called for a national effort to help prevent a surge among incapacitated seniors who don’t have a decision maker and face a health crisis. [Read more…]