I Don’t Have Children – Who Will Care for Me?

Over the years, many women decided that they didn’t want children. Their decision was made not necessarily because they were selfish; many were career-oriented and received fulfillment through their work. But as these women age they wonder who will care for them, especially when they watch their friends’ children help them through illness or life chores.

Of course, having children doesn’t necessarily mean that they will care for you in later life. However, depending on the dynamics of the family through the years, they may be available from a distance, to help coordinate care and finances.     

As more and more women decide that motherhood is not in the cards, the chances are much greater that as they grow older, more non-familial caregivers will be needed. In 2010, the “caregiver support ratio” was seven potential caregivers for each individual over the age of 80. This ratio will decline to four to one by 2030 and to three to one by 2050. AARP produced a report in August 2013 that stated 11.6 percent of women ages 80 to 84 were childless in 2010. That number will increase to 16 percent by 2030.     

According to research done at the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, PA, 70 percent of long-term care is provided by adult children. Surprisingly, a 2012 study published by Fidelity Investments revealed that only 3 percent of parents were in agreement that their children would step up to provide care if needed. According to this study, having children does not necessarily equate to help for older parents.  

The trend towards remaining childless means there will be fewer adult children, usually daughters or daughters-in-law, to provide care to relatives. These caregiving responsibilities are now being assumed by nieces, cousins, nephews etc. A recent trend does show that more men are involved in caregiving.

Having and raising children is expensive. A 2012 report released by the Department of Agriculture projected that it will cost a middle-income family about $241,080 to raise a child to the age of 17.  That amount of money, saved for 35 years, would amount to $1.5 million with compounding interest. And that is the advantage for childless women. They are generally able to save enough money to hire caregivers or to take in a friend to help with care.

But there are other issues raised when women are childless. Where will they live in old age, especially if they are not well?

Many older women would rather remain in their homes; some live in apartments and those that do, are “aging in place.” In this instance, communal living is known as a NORC or, a “naturally occurring retirement community.” It is not unusual to find older childless women or couples who would prefer to live in a community. 

Comprehensive estate planning for childless clients therefore will have to take an even closer look at long-term care considerations, and be individually tailored to each client’s needs and concerns.  The attorneys at Weatherby & Associates, PC can help you put a plan in place that will maximize your available resources to help you live as well as possible for as long as possible, and as much as possible keep you where you want to live.

In a future blog, we will explore estate planning for childless couples.  

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