Seniors Without Children

A recent article by the New York Times considered the situations of seniors without children or a natural support system.[1] Often nieces, nephews, or ex-spouses would step-up to the proverbial plate for seniors without children. However, there are a growing number of seniors without either of these support systems. They are looking to friends, professionals, and caregivers. Care, housing, finances, and estate planning are the four main issues.

Traditional care-giving providing by family members is dwindling.[2] The demands of modern day family life and financial realities are the largest contributors to this downward trend. Home care-giving is a rapidly growing industry which is expected to only increase with the aging of the baby boomers. [3] Home care provides comfort and familiarity for seniors at a better price point than facility care.

Co-housing and naturally occurring retirement communities are on the rise for seniors without children. Co-housing relates to an intentional community of private homes that share facilities such as the kitchen, dining room, gardening area, or laundry. Naturally occurring retirement communities are residences that were not created for seniors, tenants of all ages live there.[4] However, a significant number of seniors have lived there long enough to age together. Both of these types of housing are popular for seniors without children. They allow for the right combination of independence and community.

Furthermore, these seniors are planning ahead by creating advance directives before there is a problem.  Asking a trusted and competent friend to act as an advocate is a trend among childless seniors. A properly executed will, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives ensure that their wishes are carried out accordingly. Additionally, it is important to file these documents in clearly marked boxes or drawers so that they are able to be easily found.
Lastly, seniors without children must consider what they want to do with their estate. The most popular options include leaving it to charity, creating a foundation, bequeathing it to siblings, nieces, nephews, or friends. Regardless of which options these seniors choose for themselves, it is paramount to begin planning sooner rather than later.