15 January, 2018

Ageing without children (again)

The last few months have been busy caring for my rapidly ailing in-laws, and it is leaving little time for us to do much else, let alone look for work, travel beyond an overnight trip, work on our own garden and home maintenance projects, or – for me – no opportunity to even get out with my camera to complete some challenges in my photography course.

This last week, my in-laws Wills and POAs were updated and finalised; of course, my husband did everything, organised the lawyer, provided the drafts, talked it through with them, etc, based on his parents’ wishes.

With my MIL ailing over the last few months (she’s 94, and went through a course of chemotherapy!), we have been at least part-time carers, thinking of things they don’t think about (the chemotherapy affected MILs mental ability(, or don’t see (my FIL is going blind), and doing as much as we can without taking away their independence.

As a result, the issue of who will care for us in our old age hovers over me, although I try not to ask that question, as I’ve accepted that there will be no-one in particular we can rely on; though I hope one or two of my nieces might still be in the country.

Once again though, it is a reminder that we will need to get organised early, and live in an environment with plenty of support. We won’t have the luxury of leaving our decisions until we are in our 90s, when ultimately someone else has to make the hard calls. But in retrospect, watching my in-laws, I don’t think that is at all luxurious, or lucky.

Making positive decisions for our own personal care and welfare when we are younger and more lucid will mean that when we are elderly and vulnerable, we should already be somewhere we are comfortable (physically and emotionally) and don’t have to worry over decisions we are no longer capable of making. Maybe there are advantages to knowing that we have to do it all ourselves?


  1. dear Mali,
    this thought is often on my mind too. Especially since FIL died because of cancer 4 years ago and my husband helps a lot to his mum, who has serious dementia.
    Yes, maybe there are advantages to knowing that we have to the decisions already before all ourselves.

  2. So many people put off this stuff due to assuming that when the times comes, whose caring for them will make the right decisions. The thing is, it never goes that way (I’ve literally not witness a single incident where someone without a Will has things sorted out without issue). Hence I don’t think any of us should put off this process (thank you for the kick in the butt).

    That said, I completely understand why this is on your mind. As we age, the thought of who will care for us is always on people’s minds. Honestly, I think you make it up as you go, even if you do have children. But again, usually the ones who have thought this through develop a solution that works for them. Those that wing it, assuming others will care for them, usually either end up with no one or in undesirable circumstances.

  3. We were literally just talking about this last night. Bryce was saying that maybe we could retire anywhere we wanted, since we don't have to be close to children or whatever, but I was like, "um, who will be our support network then? We have to make sure we plan that stage of our lives very carefully." I always feel like a buzzkill, but I'm with you -- planning earlier on when you're lucid and in good shape is even more important when there's no one who might possibly be able to be a caretaker. I think about all the time I spent visiting my grandmother in the last two years of her life, and I get a panicky feeling of "OH NO! Who's going to do that for ME?" We are thinking on relationships with other people's kids that we can nurture to have a support network for when we age. Scary thoughts, but necessary. It comes for us all, and I think you're super smart to get so prepared ahead of time. (And I like thinking that in a way we're fortunate as people without children, because we won't rely on an assumption that family bonds will take care of some of these things only to be sorely mistaken when it counts later on and when it's too late for other plans.)

    1. No! I think Bryce is right. The world is your oyster! Don't constrain your lives too soon. In fact, you've prompted me to write another post.

  4. I see all the stuff my sister does for my parents (who are not THAT old yet...) & how my SIL spends almost a full day every weekend cleaning, grocery shopping and cooking for her elderly father and taking him to appointments -- & yep... I like to think the nephews might pitch in from time to time -- which is one reason we moved here, to be closer to them as we age -- but I'm not going to count on it...

  5. I still find it hard to focus properly on this issue: it feels very abstract and distant. In the place I live, I'd have no one if my husband wasn't around. So need to start thinking. I like the idea of a community, a communal living space, a nice kind of assisting living space. Ireland is crap for all the above, however. You're nothing without family here.

  6. Very sobering thought indeed. Putting things in motion, making plans, settiing up directives and all done earlier rather than later, best.