[Chicago Tribune] It’s the holiday season, the time of year when every red-and-green light display and jingling bell reminds Janyce Boss that she is, for the most part, alone.
She’s almost 65. She’s divorced with no children. She spent years caring for her father, who died after struggling with heart complications, and then her ailing mother, who died in 2013. Her brother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and died last year.
Boss is what researchers call an elder orphan — an older person who is socially or physically isolated, without an available family member or caregiver to help him or her manage aging. Based on the number of people older than 65 who are unmarried, widowed, childless and who have no nearby family, experts estimate as many as 22.6 percent of the older population nationwide is at risk of aging alone, or already is. In Chicago, about 27 percent of seniors are widowed, 15 percent are divorced and 14 percent never married, according to 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data.
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