When There’s No Family

“The presumption is that everyone has someone available, someone most likely younger or in better health, and better able to carry out one’s wishes or make decisions with your guidance,” Cheryl from Westchester commented the last time the subject arose.

But not everyone does. Ten years ago, the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging looked into this problem and cited estimates that perhaps 4 percent of older adults are “the unbefriended elderly,” a chilling phrase referring to those who can’t make decisions for themselves, have no advance directive or surrogate decision maker, and have no family or friends able to assist.

Most of those aren’t computer-literate Times subscribers trying to plan ahead, like Cheryl. They’re primarily lifelong loners in hospitals and nursing homes, the report found. More.

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About The Rev. Thomas C. Jackson

Ordained to the priesthood in December, 2010.
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