A trip to Singapore working with the Agency for Integrated Care in early February reminded me of the extent to which professionals are working all over the world to support families who are unexpectedly struggling to cope with their older relatives. In some countries the unexpected struggle is caused because no one imagined that so many women would be in the workforce, rather than undertaking caring as part of their lifetime in the home. In other countries it is unforeseen because the citizens were living under the misapprehension that the state was going to pay for care for frail older people. Further, in some places, the extent to which people are surviving middle age is a surprise. People who imagined they would leave a financial legacy to the next generation are discovering that it will all be spent on their own care towards the end of life.
We mustn’t dread old age. Old, old age is a result of success in public health, personal safety and clever medicine. But it is essential to consider how your own old age is to be managed. People are frightened to talk about it, as if it comes faster when you anticipate it too much. Nothing could be further from the truth. Talk about it with your family or advisers, the sooner the better, make a plan and then cross your fingers that you’ll have a great outcome. You have to cross the fingers because some of it is luck, but in my experience, the more carefully you plan, the luckier you get.