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Aging in America - Part 2
 
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All the Lonely People

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l During the 1990s, the number of seniors 75 years and older living alone increased by 21%. In the year 2000, an estimated 5.7 million of 75+ year-olds were living alone, compared to 4.7 in 1990. Of that 5.7 million, the group most impacted by this statistic is women—at 4.4 million their numbers are almost equal to the number of both men and women who lived alone during the 80s. Half of older women age 75+ now live alone. l
  By the year 2030 those ranks of 75+ living alone will have plenty of company, so to speak, as the overall population of this age group swells to 32.5 million. For boomers, the senior years—especially for women—could be even lonelier. That's because on average, they had fewer children than their parents, leaving a shortage of adult children to act as caregivers. Also, boomers have chosen to divorce, to cohabit, to remarry and create stepfamilies, to remain single, to marry and not have children. This lack of "kin availability"— the number of family members who will potentially be available to elderly individuals—as well as the higher number of divorced boomers will affect the nature and types of support services that both families, religious institutions and government may need to provide. -JK  
     
  LEARN MORE: Catch the Age Wave: A Handbook for Effective Ministry With Senior Adults, Win Arn, Charles Arn (available from Amazon.com); Census Bureau: "Amerca's Families and Living Arrangements", Publication P20-537 (Download PDF file); Working the Gray Zone: A Call for Proactive Ministry by and with Older Adults, Charles G. Oakes, Harold W. Burgess (available from Amazon.com).  
     
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75 and Older Living Alone by Sex: 1990 to 2000
Source: US Census Bureau

  1990 2000 % GROWTH
Total 75+
Population
13.1 14.8 13.0%
Women 75+ 8.5 9.0 5.9%
Women Alone 75+ 3.8 4.4 15.8%
Men 75+ 4.6 5.8 26.1%
Men Alone 75+ 0.9 1.2 33.3%
(Population in Millions)
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l Ministry Ideas l
     
 
Consider the following statement by a childless woman:
"I will count on God, an extended church family and the kindness of strangers to do for me what I am doing for my 80-year old mother: providing care in my old age." If this woman were one of your congregational members could she rely on having that "extended church family" in place? What about non-members in your community who don't currently have a faith community? What are some of the ways that you could reach out to them?
 
 
l What are the implications of this trend for the future of your church? Consider discussing this with your leadership.
If elder care will replace day care as the care giving crisis in America how do you think that the church at large, and specifically your church, should deal with this crisis? Do you already have an elder care program in place?
l Consider implementing a ministry that will help generations derive mutual benefit from each other and strengthen ties in the "extended church family."
 
     
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l ©  COPYRIGHT 2008 PERCEPT GROUP, INC. l
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