I was deep in a discussion with my colleague Linda about a fast-growing segment of America’s population that some refer to as Elder Orphans. The term Elder Orphans refers to a segment of the aging population who has no one to help them manage growing old. Linda is an author and professional who performs research on America’s aging population.
“Solos” is the term Linda prefers. Others use terms like “Solo Seniors.” My least favorite has to be “the Un-befriended” (Gee thanks, American Geriatrics Society). No matter the term, there is a growing need among this segment of our society.
This new terminology is used to call attention to the numbers, to create awareness of the need and to suggest further study (such as Linda’s study). Google “Elder Orphans” and you can easily find a number of articles about the phenomenon.
The reasons and causes for being deemed Elder Orphans are many. We are aware that our family sizes have become smaller, and we know that our mobile society has families spread out across the globe. We may not have the close-knit communities or large, multi-generational families of the past. At any rate, the number of persons without social, biological or built-in support swells even more when you factor in the many reasons people may have no one they feel able to trust with their healthcare decisions.
Elder Orphans: A Story of Supply and Demand – in Reverse
What happened next was the genesis for our latest service.
Linda said to me: “What I’d really need is a point person, someone to “triage,” if you will, and mobilize. I’d need someone who knows what I want and can contact and mobilize my team. I would feel so much better every day if I knew I had that safety net. You see, I live alone and my brother is on the other coast. As my POA (Healthcare Agent), he can make my decisions and you can bet I want him called if anything happens to me, whether it warrants those kinds of decisions or not.
You’re also talking to somebody who is an avid cyclist, yes, at my age. What happens if there is an accident? If I fall off my bike and sustain an injury then naturally I’d want my brother (who is Power of Attorney) to know. I want Triage – I need somebody who can be my First Call, my Emergency Contact. That person must have the skills to gather and assess – and that’s where the word “triage” came into mind – and contact my brother or my doctor but with relevant information. Someone who is able to gather what’s going on, grasp it and provide accurate information to those I think may need it.
I would imagine that my brother would have my medical information, but it would be nice if there was a trusted contact, a professional with whom I shared my medical records, or current medication list, and certainly a list of all my medical providers. I want this person to call the people I have specified.
The relief that would bring to me is huge! I already feel like I live as sort of an outrigger, away from my family, and hence, vulnerable. I don’t want to sound sappy, but I’m looking for something between a guardian angel on my shoulder and some sort of insurance. That’s ‘ensure-ance’ with an ‘e,’ to ensure the proper actions that I have planned are taken on my behalf.”
And there we had it. Here was Demand, but no Supply! It was this frank and simple conversation that brought about the solution.
I was challenged that day to design a service to meet the need of Linda and Elder Orphans, a service whereby their Very Important Persons would be contacted by someone who holds both current information and savvy. Linda wants someone who could be called upon to get solid information to relay in an acute situation. She went on to indicate her willingness to pay an annual premium, quarterly or even monthly. (I believe her words were “Why, I’d pay good money to have that …”). She would welcome being contacted on a cyclical basis regarding updates, to confirm or deny the plans previously put into place. “If anything, that alone would make me feel secure” she had said.
And so a new service was born. We call it EmergeNC Contact.
A NAVIGATE NC agent will become your EmergeNC Contact. We will be the first call that sets into motion the activities you want done. If moving into a community requires you to provide an emergency contact, put us down. If you are at the doctor’s office or go on a trip and must provide a contact on their form, we have you covered. If you are headed to the Emergency Department, call us and we will get to work.
As Elder Orphans do, Linda wants security. She wants her “ensur-ance”. She is asking for a bond between herself and a seasoned professional who will carry out her wishes. She wants to put into play a plan that will bring her peace of mind.
As an EmergeNC Contact client, you will enter our services just as with other clients, providing your medical, legal and familial information. We’ll house that (in our HIPAA-compliant system) along with your current medications or most recent hospitalization, etc. We’ll map out those you designate to be called in the event of an acute situation. (For example, prompting your Primary Care Physician to talk to the ER Hospitalist who’s never seen you before, or communicating with your brother on the other side of the country). We will maintain at the ready all their contact information and ensure they know that your EmergeNC Contact plan is in place. We will meet with you quarterly, and in person, to reconfirm all information and direction and to check for any changing needs, but you may call us with concerns in between visits.
We at NAVIGATE NC are all about solution. And remedy. If there is a need, and we think NAVIGATE NC can mitigate it, then that’s our aim, every time.
In this case, we see a need within a growing portion of our society. Here is Demand awaiting Supply. Our EmergeNC Contact service places us all squarely on the road to elder care solutions.
Are you (or a loved one) an Elder Orphan or Solo Senior? Do you want someone savvy to take the action you have prescribed and to contact your Very Important Persons should the need arise? Call us at 919.628.4428 or CONNECT WITH US on our website to schedule your initial and complimentary conversation now.
This article is featured in SeniorCare.com’s Aging Industry Insider: Top News from Around the Web in February 2018.
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