Guest Author - Previous BellaOnline Editor
The most often-voiced concerns of those without children revolve around their old age. Who will care for them in their golden years? Will those who chose not to have children later regret their decision? Are non-parenting seniors as happy as their contemporaries who are parents? Several research studies provide the childless with good news on this front.
Elder care is a growing issue in the United States as the large generation of Baby Boomers heads for their senior years. Currently, 19% of baby-boomer women in their early forties have no children. Relying on adult children for their elder care is not an option.
Although they have no children of their own, they may have strong family and community relationships. Often the childless forge friendships with younger people who will be their companions in their senior years. Many will depend on extended family, caring friends, fellow church members, long-time neighbors, and their own financial resources instead of adult children to provide senior care.
More than one-third of Americans who reach 65 will require nursing home care. Many more need help at home: assistance with eating, bathing, shopping, or taking medication. Long-term care insurance can help pay for services not covered by Medicare and private health insurance: long-term nursing home stays or in-home health aides needed to keep them in their own homes. Five million long-term care policies were purchased between 1987 and 1996, and sales continue to grow at a rate of 22% per year.
Another concern is the question of whether the childfree will face regrets later in life over their decision to not have children. Yet, seniors who are childfree continue to report high levels of life satisfaction. In a survey of 700 men and women over 55, those who chose childlessness were just as happy as parents with good relationships with their children, and happier than those parents who described their relationships as distant.
Without children or grandchildren, the social networks of the childless tend to be smaller, but they do not report feeling more lonely or isolated than parents. In a survey of 854 Florida retirees, those who wanted to have children but could not were found to be just as content as parents. They found satisfying alternatives to having children and use other networking resources for social interaction. Childless adults lead more active social lives than parents, and participate more frequently in clubs, organizations, travel, exercise, and sporting activities. Their self-esteem, psychological well-being, and life satisfaction are equal to parents; despite being smaller, their social networks are just as rich and full.
The outlook for those entering their senior years without adult children to care for them is excellent. By using their own resources and social networks, they are just as happy and satisfied as their parenting peers.
This content was written by a Previous BellaOnline Editor who has asked to remain anonymous at this point. She has given us permission to use her content on the site but requests her privacy and cannot be contacted.