Sunset Place

A friend turns 50 tomorrow. I met her along with several other people for dinner last night: five women, one man. The group ranged from late 40s to early 50s in age. All but one is single. Three of the women (including me) have never been married. Two in the group are divorced; one (the male), recently. The sole married woman was married for the first time two years ago at 52. No one in the group has children. All but one (the married woman) has at least one cat. We spent a lot of time last night talking about our cats. Sharing photos. Even the male among us.

The birthday girl recently had a double mastectomy. Many friends, along with a breast cancer survivors group, pitched in to help during her recovery. She has much support. But what happens when we’re all 70 or 80 or 90? Who will care for the singles, then? Some of us may have nieces and nephews who will help. But we cannot rely on that. And honestly, I wouldn’t want to put that burden on them. And the burden with me could be fairly substantial. Because my father had Alzheimer’s, the odds seem to be greater that I will, too.

PlanI need to make a plan.

So much is percolating right now. With the deaths of my brother and father last year, along with turning 50, I find myself thinking about my future. Retirement. Being alone for the next 20, 30, or 40 years. Yes, I might meet someone to share a life with. Someone who will provide emotional support, and perhaps more security financially. But I can’t count on that. I should have thought more seriously about all this long before now. But it’s so easy to ignore when you feel 30. And when you’ve never been faced with mortality. Until last year, everyone lived forever.

I’m feeling panicky. Earlier this week, I began the process of refinancing my condo. I’ve finally decided I don’t need a house. I’m staying put. A house is a bigger burden financially, and maintenance-wise. I can live here in this condo as long as I’m able to take care of myself. Or longer, with a caregiver. With refinancing, I’ll have paid off my mortgage in 15 years when I’m 65, instead of in 30 when I’m 80. All for only $20 more a month. Yes, the rates have dropped significantly since I bought it in 2004.  After I met with the mortgage guy, I made an appointment with a new financial advisor. During the preliminary meeting, he shared photos of his cat on his iPhone. So I pulled out my iPad and showed him mine.

Cats are the new children.

I’m certain with all the baby boomers out there, my group of friends are not the only ones contemplating our futures. We’re hitting our retirement years en masse. Most of us do not have long-term disability insurance. It is not included in Medicare. Many of us will have Alzheimer’s. Our current healthcare system is not set up to care for us. I found that out with my father. How will we manage?

I will be 65 in 15 years.

MelroseThe discussion about aging last night led to brainstorming about solutions. The solution we settled on (in theory) is to buy a small condo complex (mine would be ideal), and each of us would have our own unit. One of the units would be housing for our caregivers. Sort of like the Golden Girls, only we don’t share a house. The condo complex must have a pool. And a pool boy. So rather than the Golden Girls, it’s Melrose Place. Or better yet, Sunset Place. Drama aside, this sounds ideal. In theory.


  • We’ve talked with many friends about a solution to aging in this society and think communal living would work. You don’t have to be single either, just keen to have friends near.


  • i the condo for aging folks sounds cool indeed and yes, a pool boy 🙂
    I too give this some thought and am currently working on a new “evening of my life plan”..


  • I turned 50 years old this year. Suddenly the truth hit me in the face. I’m aging. In my mind I still felt 17 yrs old. My body had other ideas about it. Now looking at the calendar the treacherous body has joined reality backing it up.
    My husband and I are about the same age. We married only 8 years ago both for the first time ever. Neither of us had children and we can’t have children now. Asking who will take care of me when I’m old seems selfish but I guess not having a plan is the more selfish path. Time to plan.


  • When my mom passed a few years ago, my own mortality slapped me right in the face, and it’s still stinging a bit. I went through a period for a couple/few years where all I could think about was that fact that I was single, alone, with no children… and therefore would have nobody to take care of me when it comes time that I can’t take care of myself. My first thoughts were something to the effect of “I need to find a woman and get into a relationship quickly… and if she has kids, that would be even better” (obviously not the “right” reason to start a relationship, but when one is having that mortality realization, rational thinking takes a back seat). Now that a few years have passed, I still think about my own mortality (almost daily) and the fact that I don’t currently have anyone in my life to take care of me if the need arises, but the urgency to do something rash has faded. The adage “time heals all wounds” seems to be somewhat true. The further I get away from the death in my immediate family, the easier it’s been to deal with. (until the next time, I suppose…)


      • Day, by day, by day… making a conscious effort to live in the present. Unfortunately that has also involved a little denial about the future, when in reality I should at the very least be writing a will so that the state knows what to do with my assets if the inevitable should come. Maybe I need a good lawyer for that… 😉


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