A couple of quick notes: You should see a few changes as I update my sidebars as I add some new bloggers and websites. Some have the same perspective as I, some do not. Also, in the future I'll be commenting on positive change and protest as much as possible for those of us wondering how to deal with the current morality. And finally, on Wednesdays, (tomorrow), Ill be adding a third blog post a week that is mainly photos. Last but not least, prior to writing this missive, I spent some time phoning one of my senators to let him know that he chose the party line over his constituents (Colorado is very blue, and he phone calls were five to one against) when voted to approve DeVos. He'll pay for that election time in this state for sure!!!
Those of us in the boomer/retirement zone are an extremely varied dynamic. Some of us are married, some of us are not. Some of us were never married, some of us are widows and widowers. Some are divorced. Some have kids, some do not. Some are traditional marriages and some are same gender relationships. Some are caring for parents, and some are not. Some of us have extended families and some have small core family situations. Some of us are connected fully with our kids if we have them, and some are not.
The truth is that there are wide variances in boomers and retirees. And that's without beginning to discuss geographical differences, economic differences, heritage and attitudes and all the other things that make us all different.
Were we to look at commercials and general articles or photos about retirement, it would seem that all of us are one half of a couple, with grand kids and sometimes an elderly parent to care for. While many of us fit into this traditional demographic, many do not.
Because of these differences in family structure, pundits and writers are constantly coming up with descriptors for different retirement groups. For example, recently I learned the phrase "Elder Orphan" while visiting another blog. An Elder Orphan is one who has no spouse/partner, adult children or companion to rely on. This group is increasing as people make differing lifestyle choices that may not necessarily include a spouse or having kids or include a divorce. In fact, there is now an Elder Orphan Facebook group. The largest concerns that I see currently for those folks aging alone have to do with transportation (if I have outpatient surgery or if I am sick, who will drive me), Affordable housing, and the legal side of care issues. Now, 29 percent of retirees and seniors not in facilities live alone. I personally fall into this group although I am not an elder orphan. I also am not a "solo ager", a term I found while exploring the website Next Avenue.
A Solo Ager, is, as I understand it is someone who does not have childrejn. They may be married or not married, depending. Apparently, one in five of us do not have adult children to support us as we age. In a childless marriage, one partner is often left behind, we no spouse and no other family support. These numbers will also increase, as more and more people choose to remain childless. This group may also include those who are estranged from parents or children in their lives.
While I not big on labels per se, labels and qualifiers like the ones above do help us realize that retirement is not only about couples with kids and grand kids. Not even close. That demographic becomes a smaller part of retirement year after year.
Personally, I don't fit into either of the above categories, but like many others, probably somewhere just out the lines, or in the center if one were to use a good old Venn diagram. I am single (widowed). I have children, but one is not close enough to help me with day to day things (she would come if I had, say, major surgery), and another offspring is looking to move out of the area. While I may move closer to my kids eventually right now they are not permanently "settled", so that may not be the best option in an immediate sense.
Just as we are not a one size fits all group as retirees, I expect there is no one sized solution for our various circumstances. And if there were, I am certainly no expert on what those options necessarily would be. Looking ahead for myself though, there are certain things I can do for myself that can make my later years both easier for myself and make reliance on others (children and friends) less immediate or necessary. For example, at this point my children a free spirits, and relying on the fact that the will live in the place they are now is unrealistic. However, I have planned for one more downsize (that or a 50/50 snowbird split) that would probably move me closer to one child as I age.
I also live with another retiree and have for lack of a better word, developed some "family relationships". I have some other retirees within my church and social groups on whom I could rely to bring me food if I were ill, drive me home after a colonoscopy, or simply provide emotional support. I will fully admit that this took some effort after my recent move, and that belonging to a church made a difference in this area.
I also adjusted my "home footprint" so that I can afford help for those things that others might rely on a spouse or adult child to help with. I do this both because independence is my thing, and because at this point in their lives both of my children have schedules that involve working full time, going to school full time. I choose to rely on them only when it is absolutely necessary. The end result of that of course is that when it is absolutely necessary my overworked, underpaid offspring and their partners will do what's needed. At this point in my life, I don't need them to shovel the walk, drive me places or other things. And finally, because I'm a widow and my offspring are not close, I have all the legal stuff done. If I were to have an accident or become ill, my wishes are clear to anyone.
And my demographic? Single/widowed early retirement boomer with one independent far away child, one almost independent who will move away soon, but with other family, friends and neighbors who abound. Is there a word for that?