There is a deeply upsetting term that, hopefully, you won’t have to hear in relation to yourself or someone you know: The “unbefriended elderly.”
This obtuse and feebly euphemistic term refers to older people who lack any sort of support system. No relatives, no friends, no one to help them or even occasionally check in on them. It’s a sad state you wouldn’t wish on anyone, but it’s not completely hopeless. There are life rafts out there for anyone needing assistance.
Find The Right Lawyer
Getting yourself an attorney who specializes in elder care law can be enormously beneficial for those who have no one else to turn to. In addition to helping clients access public benefits and long term care, they can assist with setting up Trusts, and know the ins and outs of housing and residential care options such as assisted living facilities, nursing homes, in-home care, and hospice.
Seek Out A Care Community
Services like Volunteers of America, Elder Helpers, Senior Community Services, as well as the U.K.’s Clarke Care, provide specialized services for the elderly and the infirm -- everything from frequent check-in calls to assistance with daily personal care (such as getting washed and ready for the day) to menu planning. Linking up with such a network will ensure that someone is keeping an eye on you when it becomes increasingly difficult to keep an eye on yourself.
Get A Care Manager
Although similar to a care community, a care manager’s focus is a little more narrow, with special attention paid to life planning and in-home care for patients with ALS, dementia, and other debilitating afflictions. To put it another way, they do a little bit of what an elder care lawyer would do, and a little bit of what a care community would do. It all depends on the person’s individual needs. Agencies such as Your Elder Experts provide these services.
Get A Living Will And A POLST In Place
At the very least, elderly or infirm people on their own should have an Advance Directive in place, which is a combination of a Living Will and a Health Care Proxy. If there’s no one to name as a Proxy, just don’t fill that part out. But you should definitely complete a Living Will so your doctors and medical professionals know exactly what you want. [Find your state’s Advance Directive form here]
If you’d like to take it a step further get a POLST. It stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment and is available in close to 40 states, even though it may go by one of its many different names. These are explicit instructions that list out exactly what kind of care you want -- including whether or not you wish to undergo any form of life-sustaining treatment. It’s a slightly more detailed version of the DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) mandate, and can mean the difference between prolonging life (usually in a state not conducive to quality of life) and being able to go out on one’s own terms. These must be filled out with a doctor and are often for people with a life threatening condition in the last stages of life. [Find your state’s POLST form here]
Please Help Us Out
If you know of any resources to help people without a support systems in place, please let us know here.