Senior Living Trends: Aging Boomers without Children Looking for Options
In a recent study on senior living trends, it’s estimated that more than 20% of baby boom-generation women do not have children. Some are single and chose not to have children while others married later in life. There are about 15 million childless baby boomers, and as they get older, many are considering who will be there for them when it comes to long-term care. Family care giving, after all, has traditionally been the heart of long-term care, with more than 65 million Americans today providing care to ill or aging relatives.
In addition, according to AARP Public Policy Institute Senior Living Trends figures, 16% of frail adults ages 85 and older have no surviving children to help provide their care giving. By 2040, when the oldest boomers are in their 90s, that number will reach 21%.
As senior living evolves, more boomers will be looking to alternatives. We discussed this in our blog in November when reviewing the future of senior living. Boomers who don’t have family to turn to for care will look at non-traditional senior living options that include informal co-housing arrangements among two or three older adults as a way to share expenses and care for each other. They will also be looking to live in Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) in which an individual comes to live at an independent living facility, progresses to assisted living, and eventually if need be moves to skilled care. CCRCs are for active adults who want a senior housing option with independence, choice and the opportunity to make friends and socialize.
Many Are Not Prepared if Care is Needed
The challenge is that, although most boomers do realize they will not be able to rely on family to care for them as they age, many have not purchased long-term care insurance plans to provide the resources required in the event they need to go to an assisted living facility, a nursing home, or independent living facility. For example, only 10% of California residents have purchased plans, according to the California Partnership for Long-term Care – but studies show that most childless older adults will probably need them. Recent research from the University of Southern California on aging indicates that, although people 75 and older without children score equally well as those with offspring in terms of comfort and contentment, the childless were far more likely to end up in costly nursing care. This further underscores that boomers need to begin to plan from now how they will be cared for as they age.