WHY PEOPLE AGEING WITHOUT CHILDREN REALLY MUST HAVE A PLAN FOR THEIR LATER LIFE
Planning for later life is one of those things that everyone knows they should do but like other things we know we should do; eat more healthily, do more exercise, drive less, stop watching Question Time because it makes our blood pressure soar! it’s one of the things that is put aside with “yes I WILL do that, but not just now because I’ve got to go to work/clean the house/mow the lawn/sort out the spare room”. There’s always a reason not to do it; one of them is possibly because thanks to the endemic ageism in this country, no one wants think about getting old. There is still huge denial about the fact we all (hopefully) get old, even the recent BBC programme on ageing well was called “how to stay young”. Newsflash, as no one as yet found the fountain of eternal youth, staying young is not possible! Anyway I digress….
Yesterday at the Leeds AWOC group (email firstname.lastname@example.org) we were discussing plans for an event to be held in August or September around wills/power of attorney/advanced directives, sitting round the table trying to nail down the brief for the solicitor who was coming along to speak. After going round the houses a little, someone said “surely the question we want her to answer is ‘how is it different if you don’t have children?” This really goes to the heart of it how is it different when you are ageing without children because after all many of the issues that come up will be the same. For us, there are 3 questions that people ageing without children need to think about
What kind of later life do you want to have?What things do you think you will need help with?
Who will help be able to help you with them?
It’s no real surprise that the key trigger point for people coming to AWOC is when they become a carer for their own parents and encounter for the first time, the bewildering away of state, private and third sector services and provision that exists for older people and find out just how hard it is to battle through them all. That’s when people say “oh god who will do this for me?”
Thinking through the kind of later life you want and the things you are likely to encounter can help to mitigate the feeling oh “oh god who will do this for me?” but we know it’s easier said than done because there is a great deal to think about
Where do you want to live? Do you want to stay where you are? Can you adapt your home to do so? Do you want to move to another part of the country or even another country? Do you want to down size? Are you interested in co housing? Do you want to share a house with friends and buy care in? do you want to own? Do you want to rent? Is sheltered housing an option?
Other issues to think about include
Friendships & support networks
Help in a crisis
Getting help around the house and garden
Managing legal issues
Getting help if you need careYour health
Planning your end of life
And underpinning it all, is thinking through these things in the light of having no adult children and in many cases no spouse/partner to offer support.