I think I drove a nice, but naive, woman a little crazy yesterday. I hope I also gave her something to think about. Here's what happened. She and her kid sat beside me on a train to Long Island. I made the mistake of saying her kid was cute. The kid was cute --that wasn't the mistake-- but my comment opened the door to a much too long conversation that eventually led itself to me telling this woman I had no husband and no kids…and that I was ok with that.
Then this happened:
Lady: Oh no! Well, who's going to take care of you when you're old?
Me: I don't know for sure. Who's going to take care of you when you're old?
Lady: Well, I have a husband and kids. They'll take care of me.
Me: How do you know that?
And my "How do you know that" question is when I think she wished she had just chosen a different seat. I went on to lay out all the reasons she was no more secure in her old age than I am. You see, life is really uncertain; there just aren't any guarantees. It would be wonderful if every woman who had a husband and/or kids could be assured of a loving, cared-for old age. Unfortunately, that's just not necessarily true. I went on to explain to her:
A husband is no guarantee.
• Your husband could die before you do. That happens, you know.
• He could also be infirm at the same time you are, so he wouldn't be able to take care of you.
• Your husband might not have the financial means to take care of you the way you need to be taken care of, so you could still end up in a sub-par nursing home. Read more…