According to the Census Bureau's "middle series" projections, the elderly population will more than double between now and the year 2050, to 80 million. By that year, as many as 1 in 5 Americans could be elderly. Most of this growth should occur between 2010 and 2030, when the "baby boom" generation enters their elderly years. During that period, the number of elderly will grow by an average of 2.8 percent annually. By comparison, annual growth will average 1.3 percent during the preceding 20 years and 0.7 percent during the following 20 years.
Another consequence of the relative scarcity of elderly men is the fact that elderly women were much more likely than men to live alone. So much more likely, in fact, that 8 in 10 noninstitutionalized elderly who lived alone in 1993 were women. Among both sexes, the likelihood of living alone increased with age. For women, it rose from 32 percent for 65- to 74-year-olds to 57 percent for those aged 85 years or more; for men, the corresponding proportions were 13 percent and 29 percent.
Every year our family bakes lots of cookies for our annual 4-H cookie and fruit delivery. All the families donate cookies and fruit and we assemble after school to put the plates together. Then the children break into groups of 3 or 4 and are given directions to homes of the elderly and shut ins in our town. The parents drive the kids from address to address and the children sing carols outside their door and deliver the Christmas plates. Then the children all return to the school for hot chocolate and cookies provided by the parents. We have done this for 8 years now.
Also remember the sick of your community. I remember when I had cancer how wonderful it was to have a neighbor drop off a casserole for my family for dinner the next day. Or the postmaster offer to come and cut grass or help my husband drive me to therapy or watch my child. I especially remember the women of my community just dropping by when I was bed ridden with a great smelling skin lotion or a new pair of slippers or a pretty pair of new pajamas, or a beautiful scarf to cover my bald head. A short visit was the highlight of my day. Don't forget the sick of your community.
Another great way to help the community is the meals on wheels program providing holiday meals for those who can't prepare them or get out. In our community we also have a senior center that serves hot meals for those who can drive. These programs are always looking for volunteers.
Do you know someone alone for the holidays? Consider sharing your family and home with someone alone this season.
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter