Who will care for you when you get older?

For a lot of baby boomers who chose not to have children, that’s the nagging question on their mind as they head towards retirement and contemplate their golden years. For them, the decision not to have kids came part and parcel with the freedom of the times they grew up in.

Having children is no guarantee that they’ll be at your bedside holding your hand, or changing your bedpan if it gets to that point. But who will be your caretaker? Who will be your advocate? Who will make decisions for you should you be unable to make them yourself?

Depressing to think about? Maybe. But oh so important to consider and deal with now.

Anyone with siblings or any sort of extended family might be covered in this area.  Might.  Depending on the ties that bind in your family, it could go either way. A 2013 study by AARP found that the supply of family caregivers is unlikely to keep pace with future demand. Their study sites that caregiver support ratio is expected to sharply decline by 2030.

For people who want to ensure that there will be someone to look after them, friends and neighbors are being given the trusted role of caregiver. And it doesn’t stop there. With retirement funds and real estate sometimes being part of the mix, these helping hands will most likely wind up as beneficiaries of their estates.

No matter your age, the decision to be childless means more breathing room all around—especially when it comes to financial matters. And with traditional caregivers fading out of the picture, these pseudo family members occupy a unique station.

From co-housing arrangements to power of attorney, people without kids are defining new ways to prepare for what life brings their way as they head down the highway of the aging process. For many, living in a small building with friends is like reliving dorm life all over again, except this time your space really is your own so it’s really the best of both worlds. It certainly beats the nursing home.

In The Childless Plan for Their Fading Days, several people share what the notion of being childless means for their future. The way they see it, it’s not all that bad.