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Elder Orphans | Caring for the senior community when family is far away

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The elder population in Pennsylvania is one of the largest in the country.

For more than 21,000 central Pennsylvanians "home" is now a senior living community and across the Keystone State that number is much higher.

For too many, friends and family are no longer around, leaving these elderly people to feel alone.

"For me to think of someone who has no one, it's pretty hard to wrap your head around, but yet we know every day that it happens," said Teresa Osborne, Pennsylvania Department of Aging.

It's a sad reality for many elderly Pennsylvanians who are no longer able to live at home.

"We estimate that approximately 60 percent of the residents within facilities in Pennsylvania don't have visitors," said Osborne.

That could be more than 75,000 people who do not have family or friends living nearby.

For some it is their last home. It's the last place that they will call home.

Barbara Barnum lives at Brethern Village Retirement Community in Lititz. Throughout her room are pictures of her husband Donald, who she called "Mr. Wonderful."

"He was so special."

Barb remembers their first date as if it were yesterday.

"So I was at dinner with him and we went into the living room and sat down and he said he had just had plantar warts removed on his foot and I said oh I would really like to see your foot. You're kidding? No," explained Barb. "I knew on the way home he was the one."

Donald passed away in 2002.

Hey Barb it's mail time!!

Once a week a friendly and familiar visitor pops by to say hello and deliver the mail.

Earl Ziegler is a retired pastor turned volunteer mailman.

"I suddenly realized the importance is not the delivering of the mail," said Ziegler. "What's important is talking with these people."

If you or someone you love needs help, you can call the PA Link to Aging and Disability Resource Center at 1.800.753.8827.

If you would like to volunteer, click here.

If you would like to report elder abuse call 1-800-490-8505. The hotline is toll free and open 24 hours a day.

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