Adults aging over the next several decades will have experienced higher rates of singlehood, childlessness, divorce, cohabitation, and a variety of other family arrangements, compared to earlier cohorts. Older adults are generally married, and unmarried ones often form partnerships outside of marriage through such outlets as online dating. The term “single” refers to the never married, different from “unmarried” who are “widowed, divorced or separated.” Stigma related to divorce is lower today, thus divorce of older adults is more accepted, though relationship dynamics between parents and adult children often change following parental marital dissolution. Remarried adults tend to report better health and well-being as compared to divorced or unmarried adults, yet remarriage can negatively affect the quality of the intergenerational change between older parents and their adult children.

Childless older adults may have greater resources to invest in their own health and well-being, yet they may lack social support that encourages healthy behaviors. LGBT older adults are only half as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to have close family to lean on when help is needed. Research suggests that married LGBT individuals report better physical and mental health, more support and greater financial resources than those who are single.