A difficult life? — Pop Junctions

You can watch “It’s a Hard Knock Life” from the original 1982 film version starring Carol Burnett and Albert Finney above, or you can watch the later 2014 version starring Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx (although if you like the musical theatre, I recommend avoiding the later version like the plague, as you can never ignore Cameron Diaz’s performance as Miss Hannigan).

Where am I going with this, you ask? Well, first of all, Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life” is a great song, so if you’ve never heard it, you’re welcome.

Second, I think we can learn from his perspective about the resilience and strength of the underdog when it comes to aging alone, and what it means to be an “orphaned elder” in America.

Helen Dennis and I wrote about the somewhat sadly named “elderly orphans” in a book chapter on retirement:

“The term ‘elderly orphans’ is referred to in gerontological circles as ‘elderly people living in the community who are socially and/or physically isolated, with no known family member available or designated surrogate or caregiver.’ An alternative term “solo agers” was recently introduced by author and life planning coach Sarah Zeff Geber. Geriatricians, gerontologists, retirement planners and others concerned about seniors aging alone focus on the “acute” issues that single seniors may face, such as making plans for what would pass if they needed legal guardianship or became incapacitated with no one to defend them. .” (Dennis & Marnfeldt, 2021)

It is true that aging without a family support network can put people in a vulnerable position. A quick Google image search will tell you what the world looks like growing old alone – apparently a lot looking out the window:


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