Older men and women today are experiencing greater longevity thanks to medical advances and a greater understanding of nutrition and exercise, but women born in the middle of the baby boom are twice as likely to be childless than those born immediately after the Second World War. Without adult children to help care for elderly women, research out of the UK suggests that the need for care homes will significantly increase over the next 25 years.
As recently reported by Sky News, there are currently 20,892 women aged 80 without children in England and Wales, and by 2045 that number is projected to triple to 66,313. This number does not reflect seniors whose children have died before them or are unable to help.
The situation for older women is not unique to the UK, in developed countries where a larger proportion of women sought higher education and delayed marriage and children to pursue careers, more older people will be facing their golden years without adult children to offer assistance. Childless LGBTQ adults face an even greater challenge. Many are single and have become estranged with their extended family as well.
Beyond the needs of physical care for seniors without family to lend a hand, social isolation which can lead to depression and overall poorer health will continue to plague the growing elderly population. In addition to governments planning for the future care need of seniors, older adults themselves can help protect their future by creating a network of friends and family that can help one another in times of need. Co-housing initiatives are becoming more popular among single older adults and seniors are taking proactive measures to ensure they will have a support system when they experience a health setback or have other challenges.
Although women are more likely to nurture friendships throughout their lives; they can also expect to live longer. In 2018, life expectancy in Canada had risen to 79.8 for males and 83.9 years for females, according to Statistics Canada. But with some extra planning, childless or single seniors can enjoy a good quality of life in retirement and soak up all the golden years has to offer.