Writer and actress Sandra Tsing Loh has an article in the March issue of The Atlantic magazine called "Daddy Issues" in which she bemoans her 91-year-old father's longevity because, she says, hiring people to care for him is driving her to the poorhouse.
I added up the costs she mentions, and those alone were about $10,000 a month -- a staggering $120,000 a year -- for live-in help to look after her incontinent and self-absorbed but otherwise healthy father and her dementia-afflicted 72-year-old stepmother. Loh rages:
My family is throwing all our money away on powdering our 91-year-old dad’s giant-baby a--, leaving nothing for my sweet little daughters, with their thoughts of unicorns and poetry and dance, my helpless little daughters, who, in the end, represent me!
The problem Loh writes about isn't unusual and is likely to be increasingly common. She points to U.S. Census Bureau statistics showing that the number of people 85 and older will more than double by 2035 to 11.5 million. Meanwhile, the youngest of the 77 million baby boomers will be turning 70 that year. Loh writes:
Owing to medical advancements, cancer deaths now peak at age 65 and kill off just 20 percent of older Americans, while deaths due to organ failure peak at about 75 and kill off just another 25 percent, so the norm for seniors is becoming a long, drawn-out death after 85, requiring ever-increasing assistance for such simple daily activities as eating, bathing, and moving.
As Bette Davis famously said, "Old age ain't no place for sissies." And as Loh points out, it's a potentially terrible situation for our children, too.