What Happens if an Elderly Person Has No One to Care For Them?

A sad situation is one in which an elderly person has no one in his or her life to care for them. They are unable to provide proper care for themselves and have no one to assist them in that regard. This raises the question of what happens if an elderly person has no one to care for them?

There are four important elements of the discussion of what happens if an elderly person has not one to care for them:

  • Understanding the role of the state of California Adult Protective Services
  • In-home supportive services
  • Senior living options for people without family support
  • Guardianship and conservatorship for elderly person

State of California Adult Protective Services

California has established an agency to assist older people in need of care who lack family to assist them. Each county in California has an Adult Protective Services office. According to the agency, this is the charge of Adult Protective Services:

Each California County has an Adult Protective Services (APS) agency to help elder adults (60 years and older) and dependent adults (18-59 who are disabled), when these adults are unable to meet their own needs, or are victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation.  County APS agencies investigate reports of abuse of elders and dependent adults who live in private homes, apartments, hotels, or hospitals.

When an older person truly is without any responsible person to provide care and assistance, Adult Protective Services will prove to be the primary resource for that individual – at least initially. Adult Protective Services has the ability to step in and provide emergency assistance as needed. The agency is also able to develop a more long-term action plan for an older Californian who lacks a personal connection with an individual who can provide care and assistance for them.

In-Home Supportive Services

For a good number of older Californians that lack a suitable caregiver in their own lives, the In-Home Supportive Services program or IHSS may be the solution for them. The State of California describes IHSS as:

The IHSS Program will help pay for services provided to you so that you can remain safely in your own home. To be eligible, you must be 65 years of age and over, or disabled, or blind.  Disabled children are also potentially eligible for IHSS. IHSS is considered an alternative to out-of-home care, such as nursing homes or board and care facilities.

This option will be made available to an older California for as long as this level of care is most appropriate for that individual. Maintaining a Californian without family or other support at home in this manner can include a home care aide that assists the person with activities of daily living. These can include such things as:

  • Meal preparation
  • Light housekeeping
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Medication management

If an older Californian has medical issues that can be managed in an in-home setting, IHSS can also provide a home healthcare aide to assist in this regard. For example, if an older California has diabetes, a home healthcare aide can assist a person in managing that medical condition while living at home. 

Senior Living Options for People Without Family Support

There are other senior living options for people who lack family support. If in-home care ultimately becomes an untenable alternative for a person in this position, the next step can be transitioning that older individual to assisted living. A person in an assisted living community can receive more substantial assistance in regard to tasks associated with daily living. In addition, an older person has the benefit of being in a safe and secure environment that is staffed by professionals 24 hours a day.

Ultimately, an older Californian that lacks family support may need more intensive care, particularly when it comes to medical or health issues. If that is the case, another transition to a nursing home or a skilled care facility may be in order. In addition to receiving assistance with tasks of daily living, a resident of a nursing home also has access to basic medical care and healthcare support. 

Guardianship and Conservatorship for Elderly Person

In some cases, an individual that does not have family to care for them (or a capable, appropriate friend) may be in need of what legally is known as a guardianship and conservatorship. Through a guardianship and conservatorship, a California court appoints a reputable, capable individual to serve as the older person’s guardian and conservator. A guardian and conservator oversees matters associated with that individual’s day to day life as well as matters associated with that older Californian’s financial affairs. 

A guardian and conservator is overseen by the court that appointed that individual to serve the best interests of the older person. The guardian and conservator is legally obliged to always act in the best interests of the older Californian he or she has been appointed to serve.