Aging solo | February 4, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

- February 4, 2022

Aging solo

How childless seniors can navigate the future without a family caregiver

by Chris Kenrick

Ros and John know firsthand the particular challenges of navigating old age alone. The longtime married couple, who agreed to share their story but asked that their last names not be published to protect their privacy, are childless and without immediate family to provide them needed care as they age.

This story contains 820 words.

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Contributing writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 4, 2022 at 1:13 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Interesting article, thanks.

Re the durable power of attorney, I've heard countless stories from friends fighting long, hard and mostly failing to get clearly stated DNRs (Do Not Resuscitate) provisions honored, including one practicing medical doctor who fought with her mother's nursing home for a year while the bills kept coming.

What's to be done?

Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2022 at 1:30 pm

Green Gables is a registered user.

What about Medicare? Does it not finance something?

Posted by TorreyaMan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 4, 2022 at 6:10 pm

TorreyaMan is a registered user.

Medicare does not pay for long term care.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2022 at 8:01 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

A power of attorney only allows someone to manage your affairs if you are unable to do (if it's set up that way). An Advance Health Care Directive is the document you need to allow someone to speak for you, should you be unable (and it has to be documented properly). A bright pink POLST is something every aging single person should have displayed prominently somewhere near an entrance someone might come through to assist you in an emergency. There is no national POLST registry yet, but if there were it would be a boon to society because no matter where you go, if your POLST is accessible to health care practitioners, it clearly states what YOU wish to happen during a medical emergency. An ACHD and POLST are recognized by doctors as legal documents (if they are properly executed). Doctors will abide your wishes unless you have a pushy relative who can convince doctors to ignore your wishes and do something else. So if you do have meddling distant relatives who would show up on your deathbed just to make your last minutes on earth a living hell, make sure your ACHD mentions them by name, and deny them access to you, your property and your personal items.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 4, 2022 at 9:24 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

MyFeelz, it also works in reverse where doctors ignore pushy relative's wishes to end their relatives' suffering. It's happened too often to be coincidence and that's why I cited my medical doctor friend's experience. She spent a year fighting to force her mother's care place to honor the DNR when it was clear her mother was long past any medical help.

Posted by Carol Scheufele
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2022 at 11:25 am

Carol Scheufele is a registered user.

In my humble view hospital based care & the like has evolved tremendously (as you well know). In the process they shed their longer term care wards or scraped building them. The result of these complex patients being transferred to what’s out there (from what I have witnessed) is shocking. There is a real disconnect that needs to be ironed out (by more than just giving the nurses more paperwork) so that less run of the mill patients can be guaranteed of receiving bona-fide “comfort care” when they sign DNR forms.

Posted by Fritzie Blue
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 6, 2022 at 10:32 pm

Fritzie Blue is a registered user.

A major frustration in dealing with my elderly father's affairs while he was going downhill with health problems and dementia was that his bank would not accept his POA, even though the box was checked that covered financial matters. The bank needed many copies of the POA which they said they were sending to Legal, but I never would hear from them. Next time I would go in we had to start afresh. This added greatly to the existing stress of overseeing his care.

I would love to see a regular column here that deals with these various issues surrounding old age. Many of us Baby Boomers and others could certainly benefit from such knowledge.

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