Q: I was once married to a lovely woman. Unfortunately, we found over time that we just weren't compatible in the long term: We had different priorities, values and visions of the future. We ended up divorcing but still were a part of each other's lives.
My ex-wife passed away this year after a long battle with cancer, and it's hitting me now that I've lost the last major bond in my life.
My parents passed on a long time ago. I don't have any close relations; I never married again and don't have any children. I'm going to be all alone in my old age. My health has been decent so far, but I know that won't last forever.
Am I destined to age alone?
A: No. Focus on cultivating bonds with the people around you.
Elder orphans -- seniors without a spouse or children in their lives to support them -- are increasingly common, and their experiences are now in the public eye.
Many elder orphans feel like they live without a safety net, lacking the physical, emotional and practical help that close family members often provide. However, many people like you are finding other types of bonds to be just as important.
Adult children have traditionally been tasked with being caregivers, but more and more couples have chosen not to have children. This leaves seniors to deal with keeping track of their medical, legal and financial affairs alone. Many assisted living facilities provide for residents' health needs, but they come with a hefty price tag.
Forming new relationships will give you a wider net of resources and support.
Although familial bonds are idealized as being the more stable and long-lived bonds in people's lives, many families have found themselves outside of this paradigm. Whether it's due to tragedy or personal dysfunction, family bonds are just as vulnerable to the passage of time.