Elders Alone: Childless Seniors Plan for Care in Later Years

Sarah Peveler has a lot of the assets that would set up a comfortable retirement in Tarboro, NC: she paid cash for her home in the small town she moved to after retiring from her job as an executive in Philadelphia.

But, as she told The New York Times, she doesn’t have one element that many seniors rely on in retirement: adult children.

Ms. Peveler, 71, who is divorced and childless, is one of a growing number of seniors who are unmarried and childless, the Times wrote. According to the AARP , about 16 percent of women aged 80 to 84 will be childless by 2030, up from 12 percent in 2010. It is a demographic shift that will leave a large number of older Americans relying on a declining number of family caregivers.

“As a result, the availability of potential family caregivers (mostly adult children) to arrange, coordinate, and provide LTSS is expected to decline dramatically and overall care burdens will likely intensify–especially as baby boomers move into late old age,” the AARP wrote in “The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap.”

The Times suggests that childless seniors should take steps that can protect them if they become incapacitated. Christina Lesher, an elder law lawyer in Houston, suggests appointing a “micro board” of experts that can include financial agents, a lawyer and other health care experts.

The elder alone are being recognized: in many communities, neighborhood groups are forming to support older residents who are at home by themselves. And companies are taking advantage of the potential market, offering on-demand services that can include ride-sharing services and technology like the Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri.

But, the answer seems to be building a social network who can help with tasks and ease a sense of loneliness. For Carol Marak, a retiree in Dallas, that meant moving into a downtown condominium where she is making friends. She told The Times she walks six miles a day and eats vegan meals.

“I need to keep stronger because I am totally responsible for myself,” she told Times.

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