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Plan for old age starting with where you would like to live out the rest of your life

By Nina Steele 

Elderly people having funWe were in Scotland to visit my in-laws this past weekend and inevitably, issues related to old age formed a great part of our discussions. Like many people their age (my father-in-law is in his early 80’s while my mother-in-law in her late 70s), they have had to make some major changes to their life, the biggest one of which has been moving home. Their former home was in the countryside and even though the house was not completely isolated, living in the country meant that they were heavily reliant on their car. And so after almost 40 years, they moved back to the city and now have the luxury of being a mere walking distance away from most of the amenities they need, including a supermarket. Their car is now used very rarely as a result.

The fact that my husband and his siblings do not live in Scotland also means that it was essential for them to create their own support network, and moving to the city has made it far easier. Now that they are surrounded by neighbours, they have people watching out for them and vice versa. Not only that, they also have other social networks to keep them occupied.

With regards to the former, one of their neighbour is a childless woman who has lived by herself for many years. She is in her 70s and has been an active member of the community until recently when major health issues resulted in her being housebound. Thankfully, she has a broad support network comprised of friends, relatives and a carer who comes in regularly. Also, because she has lived in the same house for many years, she has developed a strong friendship with some of the neighbours, including my in-laws who help her with practical things such as buying her newspaper and taking out her rubbish. Had she lived in an isolated area, the story of her later life would most certainly have been very different.

The greatest lesson I learnt from working with the elderly for 8 years is that planning for old age is an absolute must for every adult, regardless of whether they are parents or are childless. If you are in the prime of your life, at least start giving serious considerations to where you would like to end your days, since that will most certainly greatly impact your life as a whole. And whatever that place ends up being, make sure that you have the support you will inevitably need.

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