Social Question

Mama_Cakes's avatar

For those of you who don't have children or don't plan on having children, who's going to look after you when you're old?

Asked by Mama_Cakes (9289 points ) August 28th, 2012

Say that your partner passes away before you.

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34 Answers

janbb's avatar

Even if you have children, you can’t count on them living close enough to really look after you.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Rose and Blanche, of course.

DigitalBlue's avatar

I hope to have a biological child, at some point… hopefully sooner rather than later.
I’ve thought about this a lot, though, since I don’t have any biological children and I have worked quite a bit with the elderly, and often ran into people who never did have children and saw what it was like. Many people rely on younger nieces and nephews or similar relatives, assuming they were close.
An older woman that I know had no children, and her husband passed away years ago. She died last year, in her bathroom, and was sitting on her toilet for 4 days before a neighbor found her. That sort of thing frightens me, it’s scary to consider.
Fortunately, for me, I am the oldest child, and my youngest sister is 10 years younger than me. I hope that if we get up there in age, they will at least be around to call in professional care if I need it.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

Serious question.

JLeslie's avatar

This is a topic that I think about too. There is no guarantee children come through for their parents when they are old and alone. But, I think most of the time at least one child does.

I don’t only think about when I need to be taken care of, but also about being alone if my husband passes away before me and not having any family. My family is very small, and my sister does not have children. I believe I will have friends, but it isn’t the same as family.

I have some health issues to, and if I were unable to care for myself physically I likely would wind up in unnecessary pain. It will really suck. That scares me a lot.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Mama_Cakes I was being serious. Make younger friends who can be there for you.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Mama_Cakes If I’m all alone and I’m approaching that stage where I can’t take care of myself I’m just not going any further.

MilkyWay's avatar

If that time comes, I’m gonna go into the wilderness and let nature kill me.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

Anyhow, I thought about this last night whilst laying in bed. I do have a younger niece. Perhaps, she will.

JLeslie's avatar

My sister and I help take care of our aunt.

gailcalled's avatar

My sister and I hired a lovely woman to do the daily and hands-on chores for my mother during the last few years of her life.

My sis and I did the emotional heaving lifting, the medical oversight, the bi-weekly shopping and visiting, little trips out for a drive or lunch; my brother-in-law did the finances, taxes, bookkeeping and contact with lawyers and CPA.

The housekeeper oversaw the showers and shampoos, nail cutting, tidying up, supervision of exercise and hygiene and wardrobe, breakfast and personal laundry.

So my mother had a staff of four.

I live in a community where there are lots of us who are aging. The fit help the unfit, when and if they need it. For example, a friend of mine whose two adult sons are not nearby, just had knee replacement. We all pitched in and brought meals, pushed a vacuum and even emptied the cat’s litter box and watered plants. The medical team provided a visiting nurse, physical therapy and other support.

I drove her to her follow-up medical appointments. She bought me ice cream. A good deal.

Of course, we still have all our marbles. And my friend was able to be her own advocate. But we are there for each other.

I would not expect my daughter to move in with me. Sometimes it is much easier to have a kind stranger take care of one’s very personal needs.

Aster's avatar

A good friend of mine is understandably worried about this since her husband is 80 with colon cancer and she’s 68. They have no children.
I’m blessed with a very responsible daughter who is occasionally planning what she will do in my old age. She and her husband have 17 acres and could build something on there for me but I’d rather stay in our gated community. That’s how I feel now, at least.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Assuming I make it that far I suppose it’ll just me and a cat or two until it’s just the cat(s). Maybe with time my attitude will change, it has for others, but if not I’m ok with that.

gailcalled's avatar

I am training MIlo to dial 911 but that is only a temporary solution.

ragingloli's avatar

The autonomous intelligent household robots that will be common by the time I am old.
Serious answer.

woodcutter's avatar

It’s very likely it will be unmotivated 7 dollar an hour care givers in some shit bag nursing home.

gondwanalon's avatar

I have planned for my elder-care with adequate resources (stock market investments, 3 retirement income streams, property investments, plus more). I’ll hire a part-time helper and or a nurse to help to keep me at home for as long as possible. Then when I need too much assistance, I’ll move into an up-scale assisted living facility (with cute young nurses) until I die or I run out of money. When I can no longer afford the assisted living place I’ll likely commit suicide before I let “Uncle Sugar” take care of me. HA!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I agree with @gondwanalon that the best way to prepare for the unknown is to ensure that there is money set aside, plus an official Advance Directive and all of the other official documents. The most worrisome for me is being kept alive if I am incapable of deciding whether to take my own life or not.

@gailcalled My cat dialed 911 once.

YARNLADY's avatar

I can answer that, even though I have children and grandchildren, and I took care of and am taking care of my parents and grandparents.

The answer is – someone else’s children will take care of you, either through taxpayer benefits or through advance planning.

gailcalled's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer: I’ll remind MIlo that he is not the only cat in the world with a brain.)

Fill out Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and the Medical Directive, with ultra clear instructions about DNR

My mother, luckily, had all her ducks in a row before she had a massive stroke in May, 2011, at 96.

The doctor called me from the hospital ER to confirm my mother’s Do Not Resusitate instructions. When my bro-in-law and I arrived there 45 minutes later, the docs had my mother’s paper work from her file and had my mother only on a little oxygen by nose.

We had several confabs with the neurologists on call and everyone said that my mother had made it easy to follow her wishes.

She went right into hospice and received morphine and ativan in order to be comfortable. She slipped away with no visible effort 60 hours later.

The moral; do your paperwork.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m hoping Dr. K will be available, I’ll be ready to leave on my own terms before it gets to that point hopefully. I do tease my niece often that if we help with a car and college she gets to help with diapers….lol

FutureMemory's avatar

I don’t think I’ll live long enough to become so old and fucked up that I can’t take care of my basic needs. I have asthma and diabetes, so with luck I might make it to 70…pretty sure I’ll be able to take care of myself still at that age.

NostalgicChills's avatar

I don’t want kids and I don’t want to get married either, so I guess if I die, I die. My goal is to treat my body right and live as long as I can and to just enjoy myself.

Paradox25's avatar

I’m still up in the air about whether I want kids or not at this point. Right now I’m just worried enough about surviving and supporting myself, let alone dating, relationships, kids, etc. My mom used to work in a nursing home, and many of their own families and children pretty much abandoned these people anyways. In fact the sight of so many lonely people just waiting to die in that place was so depressing to my mom, as well as the way many of the staff treated these patients, that she quit that job. Nobody has any guarentees that they will have people who will not only care for them, but even care about them at all.

augustlan's avatar

I have three kids, but have no intention of asking them to care for me in my old age. I would much prefer that my needs be met by professionals, and that my children will be able to come visit me purely because they want to see me, with no added burdens.

BosM's avatar

Your children will have there own lives and visit from time to time. If you are lucky enough to remain healthy and independent, do so as long as you can. Otherwise, unless there is sweeping change in the values and priorities (in the US) government will pay for your care – Medicare when you require skilled care and Medicaid if/when you run out of money and are indigent.

tinyfaery's avatar

Well, my partner and I figure her sister is going to drive at least one of her children crazy, so we can be the cool aunts.

Honestly, I’ll most likely go before my partner. She’s younger, fitter, and the women seen to make it into their 90’s. I’m sure me, the runt, will go way before she does.

woodcutter's avatar

Banking on family to do ass wiping and colostomy maintenance and (insert any other high maintenance duty)for years on end is extremely fatiguing and comes with a high burn out factor no matter how close and deep the love is for the elderly family members.

Even though it comes off as callous it is a little discussed facet of elderly care and often ignored because the stricken suck so much out of the situation it almost comes off as shameful to ever show distress.

janbb's avatar

I would never assume even if my kids lived close to me that they would take care of my physical needs or that I would live with them. I would picture it more as being someone to bounce ideas off of, to help you find the care you need, and to keep an eye out for your safety.

Shippy's avatar

Those are things we have to plan for as individuals, as you say yours, anyones partner could die or become ill, before you do. Old age is so tough, I have seen so much of it, having cared for my own. It also destroyed a lot inside of me as a person. Aside from having money set aside to pay professionals, I would say having a good network of friends helps. If you can.

DigitalBlue's avatar

I think I approached this question differently from a lot of others who answered. I wouldn’t expect my children to take care of me, it’s just good to have family members who recognize when care is necessary. If that means bringing an aide or a nurse to the house, or putting me in a nursing care facility, not necessarily my family moving in and putting me in the shower and spoon feeding me. I’ve seen situations where that doesn’t happen, or doesn’t happen soon enough. I didn’t read this with the expectations of having family literally take care of me until after I saw so many others interpreted it that way.

Leanne1986's avatar

This is something I have never given much thought. I guess as I become older I may start to think about it more and more but at the moment I can’t even be sure I will live that long so I try not to worry about it.

jca's avatar

I often think of this question when I think of my friends who never had children. While I definitely am not expecting my child to be taking care of my personal needs such as diapering or whatever (the inevitable?), I feel she will most likely be “in charge” of making decisions when I can no longer make them.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’m to hoping to always be someone’s beloved and favorite “auntie” :D

Really though, I know so few adult children who care for their elders. It’s usually the other way around, elders taking care of slacker adult children.

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