As you get older how do you see the rest of your life panning out? We all hope that we will be able to live in our own homes for as long as possible, caring for ourselves and enjoying our lives, without having to rely on anyone else.
That independent dream becomes a reality for some, but for others a little more care is necessary and deciding who provides that care can be a logistical and emotional nightmare. Many people hope their kids will live close enough to lend a hand as their need for support grows, but it simply isn’t realistic, and kids want to live their lives without having to worry about looking after mum or dad.
Gone are the days when kids got married, bought a house in the next street, raised a family and then cared for their parents. Grown up kids move away for work, to be with partners and simply for adventure. They can’t be expected to limit their dreams and their lives so that they can be on-hand incase their parents need to be cared for, or can they? Should our children be prepared to do their duty and repay their debt to parents who have cared for and helped them?
The alternative for older people who want to remain independent is to organise themselves well in advance.
Pamela Zitron is a writer, in her late 60s. She is currently working on a book inspiring agelessness using her 95-year-old mother as her role model, and she recently expressed her thoughts on caring for parents. She tells the story of how childless, and living in the US, she hatched a plan to get together with others who didn’t have children and form a group – getting to know one another so they could rely on each other as they aged. She had seen first-hand how children respond to parents who expect to be taken care of by them. They weren’t always as willing as their parents would hope.
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There’s a generational gap in peoples expectations. A couple of generations ago, most people cared for their parents as they got older. It was expected, and there wasn’t a welfare system in place to do the job if children didn’t choose to be involved. There was simply no choice. Many people remember growing up in a home where their mother, as well as caring for her children, also cared for a surviving grandparent who lived with the family, usually in a room on the ground floor.
Zitron believes that whether you have children or not, taking care of yourself to the best of your ability is the ultimate gift to yourself or your kids. Do whatever it takes to keep, or get, your own house in order and maintain your independence.
Some though would still prefer to grow old amongst their families with our sons and daughters providing any extra care they may need. Is that selfish or is it a basic human need, to want our families around us as we get older and become more vulnerable. The companionship and help of friends can’t ever be as comforting, or can it?
Should we expect our children to care for us as we get older or should we do everything in our power to stop ourselves becoming a burden to our kids?