Messages about elder care, selecting a nursing home, securing Medicaid support, and similar matters are often directed not at the seniors themselves but their adult children. This is a cultural adaptation that recognizes the role that adult children play in caregiving for their parents. While the rate of child-caregivers may be decreasing from decades past, they remain a key component of senior aid throughout New York.
But that begs the question: What about seniors without children?
Planning Need Even More Imperative
Childless residents have even more need to plan for their long-term care than others. A New York Times story recently profiled a few area seniors in this situation. The story points to a recent AARP report which found that the childless rate is increasing. Specifically, the total number of childless women between the ages of 80 and 84 is set to increase by nearly 38% in the next 15 years. Not only that, but the total number of available child-caregivers is set to decrease significantly over that time, even among those with kids.
What options do childless seniors have for support?
The answer for many is help from non-child relatives and friends. Many seniors receive aid from trusted nieces and nephews, long-time neighbors or other “alternative” children.
In all cases, however, not having children increases the need for ones wishes to be explicitly laid out in estate planning documents. One unmarried and childless New York senior interview for the story explained, “”You have to think in advance; you can’t assume that people are going to know what you want done for yourself, or how you want to be taken care of, whether you want to stay in your home or not. It’s important that people who you care about and who care about you know exactly what you want.”
This extends not just to wishes about long-term care but also the naming of alternative caregivers, burial/funeral wishes, and inheritances. The “default” rules for all of these matters is more complex for individuals without spouses or children, because those relatives are usually assumed under the law to play an important role in one’s life. Those without those relatives and no legal plans in place may find an inheritance going to one they did not choose or having decisions made by a virtual-stranger.
Get Help Today
If you are senior (or soon-to-be senior) concerned about your long-term care options, be sure to contact a legal professional as soon as feasible. NY elder care attorneys are uniquely experienced in understanding challenges facing seniors in many different circumstances and putting legal plans in place to ensure proper care no matter what the future holds.