Growing old alone: More seniors at risk of becoming elder orphans - Chicago Tribune: The term "elder orphans" was coined in part by Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, chief of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y., who co-wrote a July analysis on adults increasingly aging alone, with multiple chronic illnesses and geographically distant family and friends. By referring to these seniors as orphans, Carney hopes to bring awareness to their loneliness and isolation, which correlates with increased risk of heart disease and mortality.
Elderly with no nearby family to help them need safety net, experts say
Last month, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and AARP launched a national education campaign to address the growing problem of loneliness, estimating that 1 in 5 people older than 50 are affected by isolation, which is associated with higher rates of chronic disease, depression, dementia and death. Research finds prolonged isolation to have an equal effect on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, AARP President Lisa Marsh Ryerson said in a news release.