As her parents grew older, Carol Marak saw how they relied on their three children for care and knew that wouldn’t be an option for her. Without a partner or children, she would have to build a different future for herself.

Marak, 69, of Dallas, decided she had to learn as much as possible about how to age without close relatives to lean on. As one prong of that effort, in 2016 she started the private Facebook group Elder Orphans. Within a month, the site attracted about 1,000 members. It now has close to 10,000, who offer each other advice, resources and sometimes a shoulder to lean on. “It just keeps growing,” says Marak, who also runs a website with tips for the “solo and smart.” 

The number of elder orphans—or solo seniors, as many prefer to be called—keeps growing. An AARP Public Policy Institute

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