"Growing Old without Children"

Last night I was part of a panel discussion at Huffington Post Live about facing old age without children. The other panelists were Sharon Kovacs Grue, an estate planner from New York, Joanne Lema, founder of AfterFiftyLiving.com from Massachusetts, and Kelly Dunleavy O’Mara, a childfree writer from California.

We each talked from home via “Google hangout,” which was a new and interesting experience. I’m going to have to work on getting a better angle for my webcam so my eyes don’t look like I’ve got them closed, but it was amazing to sit at my desk and talk to people all over the country. On the phone afterward, I had trouble explaining this to my father who kept asking things like whether a film crew came to my house. Uh, no. It was just me and the dog. Amazing.

It was an interesting discussion in which we concluded that life is a gamble and even if a person has children, she can’t count on them being around to help in old age. Maybe she shouldn’t even expect them to. Lema said she taught her children to be independent and take care of themselves, and she tries to do the same. We all agreed that, childless or not, it’s important to prepare for future challenges by setting up insurance, wills, advance directives and power of attorney, as well as maintaining connections with friends or family who will jump in when needed and know what to do. We were mostly talking about people over 50, but nobody knows what’s going to happen in life, so it’s good to be prepared at any age.

There was so much more to say than we had time for. I wanted to get into a discussion about the emotional aspects of aging without offspring, but mostly we talked about medical emergencies, nursing homes, finances and that kind of stuff. Some of the comments suggested we were all childless by choice. Nope.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

2 thoughts on “"Growing Old without Children"

  1. Simply putting in huff.lv/10DJqmv worked. I didn't need https or www as a prefix. [no longer available in 2019] Thank you. I'm so glad I watched the interview. It gave me hope for the future. My grandmother lost her daughter (my mom) to cancer a decade ago and has no family nearby to care for her. She refuses to move in order to live closer to family members, so she is cared for by a mix of kind neighbors and paid help. Like your aunt did when she was alive, my grandmother is nearing 100 years in age and still living independently. You have a beautiful smile and it was wonderful to hear your voice. Hope to see more interviews!


  2. Having children so that they can go to your funeral, or having children so they can look after you in your old age is more selfish than not having children at all, or running home to mother when your marriage crumbles


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