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Does anyone else worry about coping in old age when you don't have children?

(70 Posts)
Friday999 Wed 05-Aug-15 08:59:07

I’ve been reading a thread about “age gaps – what happens in later life” and even though there’s only 8 years between DH and I, if you look at average life expectancy, I could be looking at a decade as an elderly widow. However if you look at DH’s relatives, they all seem to live into their late 80/early 90s, whereas none of my relatives have got past 75, so who knows.

I know we’re an aging population, so I expect there will be lots of people in the same boat as me by the time I’m elderly, but it still worries me. When the time comes, I’d probably like to live in a ’retirement village’ set-up, where you’ve got privacy if you want it, but the option of company/assistance too.

But I worry about silly things, like how would I move house on my own if I’m 80? Would I spend every Christmas alone? What if I’m too old to drive etc etc? I suspect McCarthy Stone Retirement Villages could be the answer to my prayers and I've even thought about buying an apartment in one of their developments (and renting it out til we're older).

I’m fully aware that I shouldn’t spend my 40s worrying about what may never happen in my 80s, but it does pray on my mind.

woolythoughts Wed 05-Aug-15 09:06:53

I'm exactly the same.

My DH is 17 years older than me so almost certainly to pass before me. I'm an only child of two only children so no cousins or extended family. Once my mum passes, there literally will be just me left.

DH has kids with his ex wife but for various reasons has no contact with them (NOT his choice I hasten to add but the manipulation of the ex wife).

I'm only 39 but I must say I worry about this more and more - however I still maintain "what happens when I'm old" is not a reason to have children.

ShanghaiDiva Wed 05-Aug-15 09:10:35

Even if you have children, there's no guarantee they would be able to help. My mother was widowed 15 years ago and both my brother and I live overseas- Asia and America so not in a position to help with everyday tasks. My mum has lots of good friends and still works at 74 so always a group of people to help her with Internet problems or moving furniture.
I understand your concerns as no doubt the next 10 years will see a dramatic change in what my mum is able to do for herself.

Friday999 Wed 05-Aug-15 09:16:14

My husband also has a son from his first marriage, but I've every expectation he'll pursue a life and career elsewhere in the country (we live in a very small town) so he certainly won't be on the doorstep. So even if you do have children, it's no guarantee of being looked after (and I certainly wouldn't expect DH's son to curtail his life on account of us).

Friday999 Wed 05-Aug-15 09:18:06

I may make enquiries about "old people's homes", ie residential homes (assuming I don't need nursing care, which is a whole different ball game) - if I were widowed, could I sell my home to pay the fees in an old folk's home?

woolythoughts Wed 05-Aug-15 09:23:05

That is the one good thing - you don't need to worry about passing on anything to your kids. all you need to do is worry about it lasting until you pop your clogs.

ThoseAwfulCurtains Wed 05-Aug-15 09:26:07

I think having a group of close female friends is an answer. Worry about where you'll live later on. Works for my DM's sister (DM and DF have died). They've been busy having a fab old time of it while their health was ok. Now they're in their late 70s and early 80s they've slowed down with the travel but they still have each other. These are not well off women financially either.

Friday999 Wed 05-Aug-15 09:29:51

Yes, I've been thinking about how my friends and I could help each other out. Assuming they don't all die before me or move away before we all get old!!

I'm just terrified of being completely alone, with no company and no practical help.

Happytuesdays99 Wed 05-Aug-15 09:33:44

Seems an odd thing to worry about when you are 30 plus years away from it! We could all be gone by then!

Lottapianos Wed 05-Aug-15 09:34:57

'however I still maintain "what happens when I'm old" is not a reason to have children.'

Couldn't agree more. I occasionally think about this but I can't say it worries me hugely, I'm only 35 though! I think that when you don't have children, there's no chance of you becoming complacent and thinking 'oh well its fine, my family will be there for me' so you are likely to work extra hard at maintaining friendships and other relationships. A lot of parents expect that their kids will be at their beck and call when they get older, forgetting that by then the 'kids' will be grown and have lives of their own! You read so many stories on here about elderly parents who expect their adult children to be their whole world, and simply refuse to make any effort to work on their own happiness and social life - my MIL is a prime example. Well that wont' be us!

More and more of us are not having children so you certainly won't be the only one in this situation OP

Offred Wed 05-Aug-15 09:34:58

I think it is very normal to worry about old age. Having children might make you feel more secure but in reality it's false confidence, children can't be expected to provide old age care and sometimes are not the most appropriate people to do it either. Living in a retirement village sounds like a good solution. My grandma moved into a new flat (sold her house) at 89, she had movers to help her sort through her things and move her. She was fine. It took a little while for her to settle in but that's the same for everyone isn't it? She did move into a flat above my parents but they did not help her, she did it herself and really what she gets from them is occasional company as they are busy and also a bit shit!

Annarose2014 Wed 05-Aug-15 09:36:58

A downstairs bedroom is key. With a downstairs bedroom and home helps, you'd be ok into your 90's. We're actually converting the garage into a downstairs bedroom/ensuite. We're only in our 40's but I have so many old people in my family that I know its a neccessity so we may as well get it done.

I remember a neighbour who suddenly had a stroke and whilst he was recovering in hospital his wife said to my Mum "I just can't figure out how we'll get him upstairs every night" and my Mum just gaped at her. Cos you don't! They sleep downstairs!

FolkGirl Wed 05-Aug-15 09:37:04

I didn't have children so that they could look after me in my old age anyway.

I would hate to think that they felt in any way obliged to do so. They don't owe me anything. I want them to fly far and free. Not keep me company.

Friday999 Wed 05-Aug-15 09:40:04

I think it's the fear of isolation and lack of company that worries me more than managing the stairs.

scandichick Wed 05-Aug-15 09:44:12

After reading a few threads on here about elderly parents I'm determined to downsize early, not when I'm already old and frail and will find it more difficult to deal with change. Like previous posters I don't want to put the burden of caring for me on my children, I'd rather think ahead and maximise my chances of living independently for as long as possible.

That said, we haven't exactly upsized yet, so it's a long way away...

Ivegottogo Wed 05-Aug-15 09:45:10

I think it's natural to think about the future in this way. I have the opposite worry in a way - who will look after my dc (special needs) when I cant?

Don't let it affect your day to day life though.

FinallyHere Wed 05-Aug-15 09:59:40

I think about this quite a lot, no answers as yet.

Wanted to say to whoever upthread who is thinking of buying a retirement flat: I see the idea but would want to checked what the market is like for these. Last time i looked, in 2012, there were loads for sale and not much movement, new ones carried a higher price than those being sold on. Didn't seem great as an investment compared to regular property. I'm really not sure why this would be but noticed it across a number of geographic locations. Id be very interested to see your experience.

HesterShaw Wed 05-Aug-15 10:05:25

Yes it occasionally worries me as I haven't been able to have children either. DH and I don't have a particularly close group of friends either. I'm freaked out sometimes by the thought of him falling under a bus at only 40 as well. I would be completely alone.

Caryam Wed 05-Aug-15 10:07:10

Sadly there are plenty of old people with children who never come near them. Having children is no guarantee. I looked after a woman who had had 5 children, and the whole year I looked after her, not one of them visited.
It isn't the physical care I worry about as I get older, you can buy that in. But so many older people struggle with paperwork as they get older. There doesn't seem to be any help for that. Also many older people seem to get more anxious and lose confidence in dealing with anything unexpected.

Offred Wed 05-Aug-15 10:09:07

Didn't seem great as an investment compared to regular property

Personally this wouldn't bother me at all because I'd be planning on being dead/severely incapacitated by the time I left the retirement property so a return on an investment would be irrelevant.

Offred Wed 05-Aug-15 10:09:54

CAB and age UK can help with paperwork.

Caryam Wed 05-Aug-15 10:11:36

I didn't know that. My gran used to keep all her letters for my mum to read on a weekly basis as she couldn't always understand or cope with them.

Friday999 Wed 05-Aug-15 10:12:42

The investment potential wouldn't bother me either - it would be the final purchase I would make, so any resale costs are academic.

I'm a born worrier (although I feel better for having posted about this, as it appears I'm not the only person with these concerns) and if I've got an achievable plan for the future, then it would put my mind at rest slightly.

Offred Wed 05-Aug-15 10:22:53

There are befriending services that age UK and CAB can put you in touch with for intensive stuff like that, depending on your local area some CABs have volunteers who do home visits for the elderly. You can also check out what support is available from adult social services or consider giving power of attorney over finances to a person you trust.

TheSweeper Wed 05-Aug-15 10:26:49

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