Childless Seniors Need to Build a Safety Net

It is critical to plan ahead. Among your tasks is to create a support system, build a team of professional advisers and find aging-friendly housing.

Senior couple walking hand in hand on a tree-lined road, Italy
(Image credit: Getty Images/F1online RF)

Childless and divorced, Linda Wiesman, 67, is apprehensive about her future. With two knee replacements, the retired accountant is having trouble negotiating the stairs in her three-story townhouse in Gaithersburg, Md. Wiesman says she and several friends who live in different cities have "seriously thought of communal living" -- a Golden Girls arrangement of mutual help.

Not long ago, Wiesman witnessed a bit of what life could hold in store for her. When her single and childless uncle broke his back several years ago, he turned to Wiesman and her sister for help. They moved him into a nursing home near his house in North Carolina. After he recovered, they sold his house, brought him to an independent living facility in Maryland and hired caregivers. Following a fall and a fractured hip, he moved into a group home, where he died a year later.

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Susan B. Garland
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Retirement Report
Susan Garland is the former editor of Kiplinger's Retirement Report, a personal finance publication whose subscribers are retirees and those approaching retirement. Before joining Kiplinger in 2006, Garland was a freelance writer whose work appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, BusinessWeek, Modern Maturity (now AARP The Magazine), Fortune Small Business and other publications. For 12 years, Garland was a Washington-based correspondent for BusinessWeek, covering the White House, national politics, social policy and legal affairs. Garland is a graduate of Colgate University.