Let's Talk: Do you expect your children to take care of you?

Today's society means caring for one's parents is no longer a given.

Growing up, many of us would have been told by our parents that when they reached the age where they could no longer care for themselves, we’d be expected to step up. 

Because after all, they took care of us as children so it’s only fair we look after them in old age, they’d say, with varying levels of jokiness!

But is this what you’ve actually done for your parents, and do you expect your own kids to do the same for you?

This question is especially pertinent in a world where people are having children later in life and can still be in the later stages of child-rearing just as their parents may need some extra help around the home.

And smart devices have made it near impossible for many workers to switch off from their jobs, and ever-cheaper travel means that families may be even further flung than they ever were.

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According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the extent to which Baby Boomers will be able to call upon a child to assist in their day-to-day care is considerably less than the previous generation for one simple reason; 14 per cent of the Baby Boomer generation are childless, compared to 9 per cent of the generation before them. 

Fewer still will have partners to call on for help either — 34 per cent will enter later life without a spouse compared to just 19 per cent for the pre-war generation

And while the need for aged care workers is projected to increase by nearly 50 per cent by 2020 from what it was in 2010, it merely remains in line with the fact that we will have an increasingly aged population that needs a greater amount of later-life care

Median ABS projections anticipate that the number of people aged 65 and over in Australia will increase by nearly 85 per cent from 3.1 million to 5.7 million – a greater percentage rise than that in the number of carers over the same period – so there won’t necessarily be more carers to care for this generation when it needs it.

US columnist Pamela Zitron says that given the way society is changing, remaining self-sufficient is the greatest gift a parent can give a child. And she warns that those who do not should not expect a warm response from their offspring

“I have seen first-hand how children respond to parents who expect to be taken care of by them. It’s not pretty,” she writes. “Whether you have children or not, taking care of yourself to the best of your ability is the ultimate gift. Do whatever it takes to keep, or get, your own house in order.”

Do you know if your children plan to care for you later in life?