This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Martin Duggan in 2021
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Many believe that childless – or childfree – adults are lonelier, less happy and unsupported in their senior years. But nothing could be further from the truth!
Increasingly more elder adults are childless. In fact, studies predict that 16% of women 80 to 84 will be childless by 2030. As this phenomenon grows, more childless adults are seeking resources about how to age solo with dignity and support.
Let’s go through how childless adults can plan to age solo so that they can better prepare for the future in terms of community, housing, healthcare, end-of-life planning and more.
Build your community
First of all, aging solo doesn’t have to be lonely. In fact, studies on childless adults show they’re no more lonely or depressed than adults with children. Many childless adults find friendship and family elsewhere, building socially-rich lives in a more intentional way.
However, as a solo adult it’s important to build your community as you grow older. This can be done by making new friends in a retirement community, a place of worship or some type of hobby.
Some childless adults have also found comfort in online groups and forums. There are countless places for childless adults to come together and find comfort with new connections. You might even find a new circle of friends in an online group related to your favorite hobby.
As you get older, you’ll want to strengthen your sense of community where you live and interact. In this way, you’ll feel enriched socially over time. In fact, many childless adults have stronger social lives because they seek out new connections beyond family.
Prepare for different challenges
Aging solo as a childless adult does come with certain responsibilities. There are some areas that you’ll have to plan for instead of leaving to your kids. This is especially true related to your healthcare and financial situation as you age.
Try to look ahead and come up with a plan that suits your needs as a childless adult, including:
Even if you intend to age in place, you might look into different housing options depending on your health. For example, you might consider moving to a CCRC to boost your social life and ensure you can get a continuum of care.
Or, you might consider researching a list of assisted living communities and helping it on hand in case you need more assistance as you age. Staying prepared can help you make informed decisions about your housing.
You should also consider aging with all your bases covered, no matter your health. For example, you could benefit from having a long-term care insurance plan in place so that any chronic conditions are covered.
You should also look more holistically at your health. Are you going to preventative health appointments? Are you staying fit and eating healthy? Have you found a sense of purpose later in life?
It’s important to keep your body and mind as healthy as possible, especially if you’re living alone.
Luckily, there are many services available to seniors living alone. As you create a senior-friendly lifestyle, you might consider:
- Getting groceries delivered to your door
- Using a voice assistant such as Alexa for seniors
- Contracting a medical alert device for emergencies such as GreatCall
- Using an app like EyeOn to create digital check-ins with loved ones
These are just a handful of the digital products for seniors available. They can make your senior years safer and more convenient too!
At the same time, you should look ahead with your finances to plan your health care, housing, etc. in the long run. You might consider working with a financial planner, especially if you have certain assets you want to maintain over time.
Clarify your advanced directives
Family members such as children are also often involved in advanced directives about your healthcare and finances. As a childless adult, you’ll want to identify key people who can take on these responsibilities in the case that you become very ill or die.
For example, you’ll want to clearly define your future planning documents, including:
- Advance directives
- Financial power of attorney
- Last will and testament
- Long-term care planning
- End-of-life wishes
You can identify friends or family members to take on these roles, or you can hire a geriatric care manager if you don’t have somebody in mind. It’s up to you!
Get more resources
Planning can go a long way, especially as a childless adult. Thinking about all these issues can help you be more prepared and enjoy aging solo.
You may need more resources to help you along the way. Be sure to check out MyCaringPlan for in-depth guides about different topics. Our senior resource center has something for everybody to guide your decision-making during your golden years.
- The Long-Term Realities of Being Childless, Next Avenue, https://www.nextavenue.org
- No Kids in the House, Census.gov, https://www.census.gov
- What Childless People Need to Know about Planning for Old Age, Market Watch, https://www.marketwatch.com
- Older People Just as Happy Without Children, Science Norway, https://sciencenorway.no
- How to Plan for Old Age and Being Childless: Step-By-Step, Join Cake, https://www.joincake.com
- The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap, AARP, https://www.aarp.org
- Who Will Take Care Of Me If I Don’t Have Kids?, Bustle, https://www.bustle.com
- Single? No Kids? Don’t Fret, New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com