According to the Wall Street Journal, for the first time in US history, senior citizens will outnumber children by 2035. What’s more, the government is currently spending more money on citizens than children. More specifically, senior citizens are getting a larger share ($1.4 trillion, or 37%), while children are getting less ($377 billion, or 9.8%), and in 10 years it is predicted that federal spending on children will fall to just 7%.
Evidently, this is a proportion of the population which is becoming increasingly significant. Though cares homes are a common option, some may prefer to live alone. This is no surprise given that some care homes can be a difficult place to live. After all, who wants to spend their golden years dealing with fistfights over karaoke?
To get a better idea of those who choose to live alone at old age, and to have a greater understanding of the problems they face, St.Louis-based startup SeniorCare.com, an online resource dedicated to informing consumers on the realities and options within the senior care industry, today publishes the preliminary results of one of the first empirical academic research studies aimed at understanding older adults who are aging alone with limited support.
The study surveyed more than 500 participants who were all aged 55 and older and who self-identify with the term elder orphan, defined as aging alone with limited support. The purpose of the study was to explore the predictors of well-being throughout the life course and the advance care planning needs of this demographic in the US.
The results discovered an interesting number of findings, such as
- 78% have no help with bills, financial decisions
- 55% have no help with medical decisions
- 70% have not identified a would-be caregiver
- 35% have no help in a crisis
- 45% reported being sad
- 52% reported being lonely
- 26% have three or more chronic conditions
The preliminary results offer some important insights into the financial, mental and physical health of those aging alone, which will help businesses, healthcare organizations, faith groups and government agencies better understand the specific needs of this demographic. Unsurprisingly, the data shows that the needs of this group differ significantly to those that have family and other support networks to lean on, which should act as a wakeup call for the industry.
“After caregiving for my older parents, it occurred to me how hard and demanding elder care is. If it had not been for my sisters and me, our parents would have been hard-pressed to remain independent. And I realized I am up a creek without a paddle because I have no one to rely on. It’s a big issue for 28% of the 65s and older,” said Aging Alone spokesperson and SeniorCare.com Chief Public Relations Officer Carol Marak. “That’s why through research such as this, SeniorCare.com are helping to inform and educate the industry, so it’s better equipped to manage the needs of this growing demographic.”
Every day in the US as many as 10,000 people turn 65 years of age, with 28% of those in this age group now living alone. It is clear that senior citizens are going to require an increasing level of care and attention as society progresses. With the help of startups such as Seniorcare.com, we can gain greater insight into their situation, while constantly striving to understand and improve their quality of life.
*Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company