People often assume that their children will take care of them as they age. Those without children may worry who will take care of them. The New York Times has a recent post on their new blog The New Old Age on this very subject. The author, who is single and childless, writes:
...having witnessed the “new old age’’ from a front-row seat, I’m haunted by the knowledge that there is no one who will care about me in the deepest and most loving sense of the word at the end of my life. No one who will advocate for me, not simply for adequate care but for the small and arguably inessential things that can make life worth living even in compromised health.
Having children is no guarantee that you will be cared for, or cared for well, later in life. I have many clients with children who spend their time wishing their children would do more for them, do things differently, who have cut off all contact with their children, or whose children have cut off contact with them. Likewise, I have childless clients who have built up a wonderful network of friends, other relatives and paid caregivers and are well taken care of by choice, not obligation.
It is true that those clients with children generally have an easier time choosing who to appoint as a health care proxy or power of attorney, but those childless clients who have to think about it more, and have conversations with friends about the responsibilities may be ending up with people who are more willing to serve and who know their wishes better.
Whatever your situation, make sure that you have the appropriate documents in place so that a person of your choice can act on your behalf if it becomes necessary.