Retirement coach Sara Zeff Geber visited several Northern California assisted-living facilities to interview “solo agers” — people, either single or coupled, who don’t have children to help them as they grow older.
At many facilities, she couldn’t find any. That puzzled her until she realized that adult children are often the ones pushing the move into long-term care facilities.
“Who is it that gets mom or dad to move out of the two-story, single-family home?” says Geber, founder of LifeEncore coaching service in Santa Rosa, Calif. “The kids badger and cajole.”
Many people won’t have children to look after them as they age, either because they didn’t have kids or the ones they have aren’t available or reliable. Without that help, they face greater risks of isolation, financial exploitation, malnutrition and other ills, says Geber, author of “Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers.”
Thinking about these realities is hard but necessary, especially for the baby boomers in or approaching retirement, Geber says. The rate of childlessness doubled with the boomers, with 20 percent of women ages 40 to 44 being childless in 2005 compared to about 12 percent in 1986, when the first boomers hit their 40s, according to Pew Research Center. (The childless rate had declined to 15 percent by 2014.)