Single, childless and 60; what's next?
THE journey to my 60th birthday has been momentous with lots of good times mixed in with a fair share of the ordinary.
Turning 40 was a time to celebrate a busy life and loads of great friends. Turning 50 brought on the fear of menopause.
Sixty is turning into a time of reflection; some decisions need to be reached and unreached goals accepted.
The most confronting decision is what will my life be like going forward. Single and childless - who will take care of me when I am older?
My friends will be old with me. My siblings are both older than me by between five and nine years. If I marry again, my partner is likely to be old, like me. So, what do I do? With no solid answers at hand I turned to a few of my friends who are in similar circumstances to see if I could learn from their approaches to ageing.
He's lived in Thailand for about four years. Back in his old home-town of Sydney he only has an uncle left alive.
"I will probably stay in Thailand and live day by day," he said. "As long as I keep my health, I will have a good time. "I am doing more fitness training than I have ever done in my life".
Ian is determined to age at home. "If I am still in Thailand, I will still rent and hopefully I can find some old lady to do the shopping and cooking for me. "I'm not anti-euthanasia," he added. "I am happy to pull the plug when I think it is ridiculous."
The Melbourne resident has both her siblings living in New Zealand and their children don't talk to Deborah.
Recently she bought a low-set townhouse in a small enclave, which she equates to living in a retirement village, so she could age at home for as long as possible. Without children Deborah doesn't know what to do with the money she has worked hard to save. Checking into a private high-care facility, if necessary, is a feasible option she believes.
"I smoke and drink, so it might not be a problem. I might just drop dead," she said. Deborah will keep working and accumulating for as long as possible and then, "I am going to spend my money on me", she said.
The Sydney-sider thinks all the time about where she wants to live and how active she needs to be to stay healthy. "But I haven't structured anything as I don't think any of us likes to feel that we are moving in that direction," Shaaron said. "I like to think I am a bit immortal and can stop the clock, a bit." In the meantime, she is conscious about keeping active and fit.
He's been single for a long time and living alone in a rental unit. Since a close friend bought into a retirement village, Gary has been considering his game plan.
"I have no bloody clue how it's going to work," he said. "I don't have too many assets.
"At the end of the day my super, which ultimately will be the backbone of it all, isn't enough to even put on a deposit on because of how life has dealt out the cards." If he gets sick, Gary's first response is to employ a carer. "At this point I don't have anyone within 2000km of me," Gary said. "It's just one of those things that they will have to turn the switch off." He doesn't plan to retire at 65. "I am going to keep going until I can't move anymore. Work's been my hobby. I might cut back the hours, but between work and the club, that's my life."
My friend's comments are food for thought, but while they haven't given me clarity on my future , they have bought me closer to wanting to live a happy, healthy and engaged path towards 70 and onwards.