Lately, I seem to be inundated with articles about how hard and sad and pathetic my "golden years" are going to be. As a single woman with no kids (a spinster), I, apparently, am due for a pretty bleak existence as I get older. I'm going to be lonely and broke, and in poor physical and psychological shape. I keep seeing these reports, but I never feel as if they're talking about me. I'm not in denial . . . maybe I'm just optimistic. Or even a bit skeptical. Who are these people they're talking about?
Lonelier, Poorer: The Outlook for Some Aging Baby Boomers Is Bleak is the title of one of these articles; it ran in The Atlantic recently. It says that many never-married boomers don't have much of a support net, we're more likely to be impoverished, more likely to be disabled, and less likely to have health insurance. Goodness. This is almost enough of a reason to make me run out and marry the first guy who'll have me.
It has always been true that a segment of our population will struggle in old age, for all the reasons mentioned above, but I can't help but wonder if this recent bunch of "bad news" articles is a backlash to all the "single is good" talk that's bouncing around the media-my book, The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Child-free, and Eric Klinenberg's Going Solo, to name two.
Though all these "poor single baby boomers" articles should worry me, they don't. Having kids or a husband is no guarantee of a graceful decline. Of course, when it works the way it's supposed to, I know that having kids and a husband is a lovely way to spend one's later years. Yet having a husband is no sure safeguard against a lonely, destitute old age. He might die before you do, or be infirm at the same time, or have split long before you reach the twilight of your life.