Elders Alone Present a Growing Opportunity for Advisors to Help Their Senior Clients

Sarah Peveler has a lot of the assets that would set up a comfortable retirement in Tarboro, NC: she paid cash for her home in the small town she moved to after retiring from her job as an executive in Philadelphia.

But, as she told The New York Times , she doesn't have one element that many seniors rely on in retirement: a support network of adult children.

Ms. Peveler, 71, who is divorced and childless, is one of a growing number of seniors who are unmarried and childless, the Times wrote. According to the AARP , about 16 percent of women aged 80 to 84 will be childless by 2030, up from 12 percent in 2010 and while population aged 45–64 years is projected to increase by only 1 percent between 2010 and 2030, the 80-plus population is projected to increase by a whopping 79 percent. It is a demographic shift that will leave a large number of older Americans relying on a declining number of family caregivers and potentially relying more on advisors for guidance through the complex decisions they face in investing, saving and spending their resources as they wind through their post-retirement years.

"As a result, the availability of potential family caregivers (mostly adult children) to arrange, coordinate, and provide long-term services and support is expected to decline dramatically and overall care burdens will likely intensify--especially as baby boomers move into late old age," the AARP wrote in "The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap."

The issue is called the “2030 problem” for the year when babyboomers hit their 80s in a large group. Like everything else babyboomers have done, they will create a tidal wave of consequences for entire industries that range from health care to real estate and investing.

Related: Rebalancing Life Insurance: The New Strategy to Keep Clients Prepared

For advisors , the challenge will be to provide resources to a growing number of clients many of whom are like Ms. Peveler and need guidance and care on a variety of issues. One approach is the “micro board of advisors” that advisors can coordinate for clients. The board members can include advisors on finances, law and health care who can provide recommendations about critical issues from specialists who monitor rules and regulations that are constantly changing.

For instance, seniors should look at the implications of the new tax law for life insurance that was sold to avoid estate taxes. Those policies can be repurposed for other needs.

The elders alone are being recognized: in many communities, neighborhood groups are forming to support older residents who are at home by themselves. And companies are taking advantage of the potential market, offering on-demand services that can include ride-sharing services and technology like the Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri.

As much as technology and resources are solutions to specific issues of age, there will be a growing need to build a social network of friends who can help ease a sense of loneliness. For Carol Marak, a retiree in Dallas, that meant moving into a downtown condominium where she is making friends. She told The Times she walks six miles a day and eats vegan meals.

"I need to keep stronger because I am totally responsible for myself," she told Times.