Our dinner with a couple last weekend was interrupted by a phone call. Our friend's mother just moved into an assisted living facility and is having trouble getting used to the routine of institutionalized care after years of living alone.
Our friends -- her son and daughter-in-law -- will celebrate their 70th birthdays this year, while his mother recently turned 98. She's sharp and in good physical condition, but she needs some regular help, including assistance managing things like insurance and other complexities of health care that come with aging. More than anything, she finds being unable to drive and do what she wants when she wants to frustrating. And she's not shy about calling her son for sympathy and help.
Our friends juggle the demands of caregiving while working full time running their own trucking company. They aren't ready for retirement. Their retirement planning includes staying on the job indefinitely.
But when the inevitable time comes -- for a variety of reasons, including geographic distance -- they don't expect to be able to count on their own children offering the same kind of assistance that they provide for his mother.
A survey released this week by Nationwide Insurance shows that they aren't atypical. Some 78 percent of boomers with at least $150,000 in income or investible assets expect neither physical care nor financial support from their grown children.
In the case of our friend's mother, the problem is less about money than it is about needing someone who cares enough to listen, be readily available and patient. Those are things that are hard to buy, but they can make a huge difference in quality of life when you're very old.