Single old people with failing health, limited income, and no family are vulnerable and dependent on others. They often have no one to advocate for them as they navigate the system. Who are they? What happens to them? Why is this happening in the United States? Is there a solution to the problem or do they continue to just exist?
They are the widows, widowers, divorced men and women who never remarry, and the men and women who never married. Often they live very quiet and unassuming lives. Invisible to many of us because, for the most part, they never bring attention to themselves.
Then all of a sudden they find themselves old! In general, they are retired with little pension or no pension and a lot of the live from month to month on their social security. Any savings they have is slowly being used to keep up with monthly expenses that their social security does not cover. Health insurance is minimal and not always the best quality. Rent, food, medicine and daily cost of living exceeds what they receive on a monthly basis.
This is not the quality of life that most singles have been used to having. They always paid their bills, worked for years at the same company and have been vital members of our community never wanting to be a burden on anyone.
They become invisible. Disappearing from the main stream of life, buried in their apartments and homes, until there is a medical emergency. When this happens they come on the radar screen, a case number, and someone’s responsibility to deal with them. Usually that someone is overworked and bogged down in a maze of rules and regulations that guide their every action. Rarely do they know their clients as the person they were before they became old and ill. They are only looking at the current facts.
These singles, are passed through the system. Unless they are physically and mentally capable of standing up for themselves they just exist. They will likely need to move from their homes into public senior housing. They will just exist day to day, going in and out of hospitals until the end of their life. What a sad existence.
These people are our responsibility. Why should they be warehoused in dreary public senior housing? Why is there no housing vouchers available for seniors to live in a pleasant and airy assisted living community? Why are some singles becoming the new homeless or poor? They have lived and work their whole lives and this is not the reward they deserve. Is congregate and shared housing a viable possibility for single seniors?
There has to be a reasonable and more pleasant living arrangements that can be made for people in this situation. The problem is here and now and the solutions available at this time are not really acceptable. The challenge for the Boomers and the X and Y Generation is find a cost effective housing arrangement to accommodate all seniors no matter what their economic situation is in life. We are all entitle have a clean, pleasant home to live and be cared for with dignity.