“But who will take care of you when you’re old??” is one of the questions that people ask me when I tell them that I’m childfree.
It’s also a question I’ve asked myself before.
I don’t believe for one minute that having a kid entitles a parent to being cared for when they get older. I believe that when someone chooses to have a child and to care for that child, that’s their choice and it doesn’t in any way require that child to then be the caregiver down the road. I find that mentality incredibly selfish.
But, I am also planning on growing old one day myself, and depending on how successfully I do that there may come a time in my life where I need a hand with things. With no children of my own and no nieces or nephews, I am guaranteed that there won’t be anyone younger than me to be there and look out for me.
Some fellow childfree friends and I have joked that as we get older, we’ll create a commune so that we can all live together and care for one another, pooling our strengths for the good of everyone. Those who are lucid will take care of the ones whose memories have gone, the ones who can still drive will run the errands, things like that. Although this lifestyle definitely sounds like a lot of fun and could be a great spinoff to the Golden Girls someday, I also know that there’s a possibility that when I’m retired and slowing down that it could be just me and my husband…or, just me.
As with anything else in life, preparation is key. While both my husband and I carry life insurance and we have both of our names on our mortgage and car notes, if one of us were to pass away I can only imagine that it would be difficult to navigate all the red tape while grieving. In order to ease that burden as much as possible, I’ve researched estate planning and one of my goals for this year is to secure a Revocable Living Trust for us. While we’ll pay more upfront to have everything prepared, the benefit of such an arrangement is that it entirely avoids probate proceedings, saving legal fees down the line. It takes care of everything upfront so that the surviving spouse doesn’t have to worry about paperwork and legal proceedings and can just focus on getting to a new normal.
Lest I sound as though I’ve got it all figured out, I can assure you that I don’t and I’m still figuring things out. It’s tricky to navigate the idea of my husband and I being old and infirm, or one of us being old and infirm alone. I thought I had covered all scenarios with our existing insurance policies, but recently the topic of long-term care insurance was brought up to me and it’s something I’m looking into.
These topics probably seem incredibly heavy and serious (and they are!), but I think they’re things that everyone needs to think through – even people who do have children. I like to imagine my husband and I side by side, living out our days healthy and happily retired in the home we’ve paid for in full, but life doesn’t always go the way we’d like. By planning for our golden years now, I’m hoping that when we actually reach old age we’ll be able to navigate it with a lot less uncertainty. And when people ask me who will take care of me when I’m old, I can reply confidently, “Me”.
Veronica is a Seattle-based lifestyle blogger who likes kitties and dresses with pockets. Follow her on @vinthenw (Twitter, Instagram),