Sunday, July 30, 2017

Should our children care for us in our old age?

I have been reading lots of blogs that state that the writers are not interested in being a burden on their children near the end of their lives. They plan on living in independent style until they can be pried out of their homes. After that they see themselves in "stepped up care" (an upper middle class way of nursing homes).
My own mother has chosen this road. She lives in an independent care facility.  She is in her late 80's now and seems to be doing well. Except. She is not so keen on how many people die around her---all of the time.
She does not want to be dependent on any of us. She made that abundantly clear many years ago. We are lucky that my dad made sufficient funds as to make that possible for her. She lives, safely, in an upper middle class facility, with a large buy in, amongst people "like her".
is that really what we should be doing?
I know of no other peoples who place their elderly in facilities so they do not have to care or encounter them.
Think about it.
Yes, end of life nursing care, but not facilities that you enter in the end years and live with only the other elderly until you die.
One of my friends asked recently, "What about multi generational housing?"
"Oh no", says another friend, "you would be setting yourself up for abuse at the hands of a loved one."
There is no abuse at these facilities? (Not my mother's of course.)

Do we, as a society, accept that elderly are useless?
That they (we) are too much trouble
That they (we) have nothing to offer to the young except a check for the birthday.
That they (we) are too ugly to deal with because they (we) remind them that someday they will be old and needy sometime.
Is society setting 80% of the population up for failure?
About 20% can afford the independent living.
The other 80% will be hoping to be loved enough that someone will bring them soup when they are weak and tired. If they do not save enough (which is an astronomical sum if you are looking for a "good facility"), will they be ignored because, "they should have known better."
Are the elderly really a burden
whom the next generation sits and waits until they pass so that the money can be freed up?
Are they a burden, like children are burdens?
Oh wait---those people are put into care as well.....

Yup, it lays heavy on my heart.


Terra Hangen said...

Good things to ponder in your post. I am retired and enjoy living in my home. I am a volunteer at a very nice retirement / memory care (dementia) home, and living there does not appeal to me. Plus I think it costs $6,000 a month, yikes.

Meg B. said...

Well, several comments:
I do not think adults should be compelled to care for other able adults save their spouse. My parents were frugal so that should the need arise, we wouldn't need to care for them, and I am the same. They wouldn't support us after college, nor should they have. By the same token, they didn't ask for help from us. The tools for independence were the name of the game, and that's where their money for their half dozen kids, and a nice nest egg to assure they're never need to turn to their kids. May I just say though, each of the 6 of us had a unique, emotionally close and warm relationship with our parents once we reached adulthood. (Some of us were downright nasty teens!)
That said, we were raised on a shoestring...mother had two Master's degrees, but didn't work outside the home. We were a one vehicle, one t.v., three minute shower family.
That brings me to my second point, and I think you touched upon it in your last line. Why do people have kids, only to outsource their care? The last thing I want is for my kids to be raised by the collective. I don't feel a bit guilty about not working though I have a degree, because I want to raise my kids. Depositing your infant at 7a.m. in a church basement, not to see them again until 6p.m. is not a good thing! Allowing the institution to raise your kid is what kills autonomy. There was no material good,no amount of trip to amusement parks, nothing, NOTHING that dh and I wanted more than for one of us to be home with our kids. I don't want to hear that you need two incomes to raise kids, because I am proof, mother was proof you do not. But you cannot do it if you think you need the latest gadget, clothes, Disney vacation, etc. I think people are letting the collective think for them, I really do. Fact is, I think people want stuff more than they want independence.

Anonymous said...

I've already told my children that I am leaving NOTHING to them upon my death. otherwise, IMHO, they really would be waiting, or even encouraging me to die as quickly as possible so they can get my money. That's how I feel. That's what I know. You can't help but feel that way. It's human nature.
My end goal is to sell the home I would be living in, say sometime in my 80's or so, depending on my health and use that money to live out the rest of my years in an assisted living facility. It may be enough money to sustain me to my death. Or not. Should the latter come true, then move me to a medicare nursing facility, because I'm broke (and hopefully in my 90's) and not cognizant of what is happening to me.
I don't see my kids taking care of me at all.
Sad, but very very true.
I pray every day that DH and I live a long happy life AND die together.
I'd love to die the way my dad did: in his own home, with an (illegal) home aid @$600 cash per week, till he was 92. The last 3 weeks of his life only were spent in a hospital, where he eventually died, in a death ward, along with all the other elderly who were on death's door.
I don't know why death has to be such a horrible thing.
When we were born, everyone held celebrations and there were parties everywhere. Gifts galore. WHY can't we go out to our deaths the same way???
Oh well.

Practical Parsimony said...

My children will not care for me, and I have no money for even the most basic care. I have a plan that will release me from the horror of dying in a facility.

Janette said...

I am sorry for your situation. There are many good places available- they just aren't as "high classed" as what is expected. I hope to live long enough to see the development of pods that will keep us independent for much longer--within the family---in my case.

Barbara - said...

My perspective is more like yours I expect Janette. Im actually blogging about this after reading Kathy's blog next week. My sister in law brought her father in law into her home by choice. He is, finally in assisted living at almost ninety, but that was a choice and one that I have admired. My kids will most likely care for me. My goal is to have the finances to help them do that, as well as to stay as healthy as possible (hence five days of silver sneakers). Most importantly, I trust them to do right by me, and I'mnot sure who else I trust. I am certainly not worried about abuse from my own kids. I dont see that as a burden any more than I do my son living with me while going to school full time and working full time because we live in such an expensive area. Families take care of families-or they should.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm with you and with Barbara. Families should stick together, at both ends of things! Everyone contributes what they're able, be that money, work around the house or emotional support. I realize not everyone can offer the support to elderly parents, and in some cases the relationship is such that they shouldn't, but I do with our societal expectations put people before things. I have no regrets about staying home with my children, and hope that they will care for me if I need that. I don't, however, think that it is fair for me to squander my money now and assume they will make up the slack for me.

Meg B. said...

It's the "should" that gets me. Adults "should" plan for contingencies, instead of living in the moment, with the "but I deserve it," attitude. My parents planned wisely for theirs and their kids futures, and I am doing the same. When my father died, of course none of expected an mother was his wife, and all they had was now hers. When she died, I was shocked as #$#! to receive a check from her executor. (My brother.) In any case, when she died, there was no squabbling over assets. Her things were her things, and she could do with them as she pleased. Our inheritance was our educations, which is probably why my parents didn't leave much in the way of heirlooms. No way Mom would have accepted a diamond ring when there were six kids to put through college, AND retirement looming. Besides, a diamond didn't "make us any more married." The two siblings who were geographically close did the running around for our mother in her later years, and none of the rest begrudged those two anything they may have taken as a keepsake. (Careers took some of us far away, as happens when parents raise you to be independent.)
So "should?" What about the parent who was abusive? Why should a child step up there? What that child should do as an adult is get as far away as possible soon as possible. And, what about those who are my age, who squander, and are still squandering heir money on houses they really couldn't afford due to the ARM, Coach bags, tech and other consumer debt? If I did that, why should my kids have to pick up the pieces?
That said, I don't like the thought of homogeneous groupings of people. That's again, part of my issue with day care,and, an extent, early education. I see the over 55 communities a continuation of people choosing sameness and conformity because it is familiar, hence, comfortable. Individuality is vanishing rapidly, it seems, in no small part, I think, due to the institutions we have come to rely upon to raise our kids. And, if you've pawned your kids off from six weeks of age so you both can work so you can live EXACTLY like your neighbors, how are you going to build the relationship that would, at a moment's notice, without hesitation, step up to help if needed, and be glad to have the chance to do so?
My soapbox, in any case.

Janette said...

Yes, I agree Meg. The word should is a fleeting idea. Should an abused child care for an elderly parent, probably not. I know of a case of an abusive parent who has her social worker call weekly to see if she can live with her child. I agree with the child, no way. OTOH, most of the bloggers I read assume that they will never be a burden. That gets my gut moving. Taking care of someone you love is tough. There needs to be give and take. Burden?
Maybe I have rose colored glasses on.

Anonymous said...

I guess when I said should I was thinking of the ideal. It is what should happen, but not out of obligation or guilt. We all have a responsibility to do our best to take care of ourselves and make good decisions. We also, I think, have a better society when we reach out to help those we love when, despite doing their best, they need help. I also wasn't referring to financial things, although of course it's all intertwined. I hope that when my parents need support they turn to me--not to save money (they can afford any care they will need) but because I love them and want to be there for them. Likewise I hope my children will be there for me if I end up needing care because I think I'd be happier that way than in a home, not because I've squandered my money and expect them to rescue me from my bad choices.

I guess to me it's a vision of a world where we support each other. I watch my brother's kids while their mother works, and it's a beautiful relationship we've all developed. But they're not doing this to save money (they actually insist on paying me). I believe the kids are better off because they're with someone who loves them, but the relationship is the motivator for all of us, not the finances. That's the sort of thing I see as the sort of world I want to live in. I certainly wasn't meaning to suggest that a child should sacrifice themselves to care for abusive parents or that the way I think things should be would actually be right for everyone. Rather that in the ideal world families (and communities) would look out for each other instead of placing those in need into institutions.