I recently spoke with a 50-something childless divorced woman, also without siblings, who has an extremely pragmatic approach to her later years. But more on this later.
She is not a statistical aberration According to the Sunrise Blog, 20 percent of Baby Boomer women are childless, which is about double the norm of previous generations. The familial safety net continues to shrink. Likewise, the safety net provided by spouses and partners also has dramatically shifted, with now over half the adult population being single. Adding fuel to the demographic fire is the projected increase in Alzheimer’s, a disease women are afflicted by twice as much as men.
When young, we are told to save for rainy days and retirement. Unfortunately, this advice has seemingly been directed solely at finances. Little attention was paid to “saving” in terms of a fulfilling, connected life. A funny thing happened in the evolution of marriage. Once largely a step taken for survival in terms of protection and resources, the catalyst for marriage over relatively recent history has been love. And, now, another transition is in midstream..one in which an increasing number of people have opted to live alone and there is a decreasing number of people who consider marriage important for having and raising children.
I guess sociologists can decide if this was always to be the inevitable outcome of a generation which had the time and wealth to self-contemplate its specialness and uniqueness. The aspirations of Boomer parents provided that time and wealth, leaving the next generation with much more freedom and latitude to explore. Sometimes be careful what you wish for.
How has the childless 50-something woman I alluded to earlier decided to prepare for her later years? Well, she has already begun paying into long-term disability insurance…not cheap now in her 50s, but likely out of reach for most if waiting until they’re in sight of having to need it. Oh, yes, one other thing she’s done: checked out those states that allow for assisted suicide. Ah, the Golden Years….