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When Expectations Collide With Reality

We love our children and would love to believe that the dedication, passion, and commitment that we give them will someday be returned or appreciated.

We hope that our love for them will be stored in their psyche and will become relevant the moment we need them to show us the same love and dedication that we have given them over the years.

This sounds great in theory, but what happens when we see that our children have grown up and seemingly moved on? They get families of their own and forget that we even exist…or so it seems.

Can we handle the reality that our expectations will probably never be met? Or were we wrong to have any expectations in the first place?

There are many parents who love their children and claim that they would never have any expectations for their children to take care of them when they retire. They claim that being a parent who did the best job that they could by raising healthy and happy children is rewarding enough. This sounds wonderful, but is it realistic?

I have visited many nursing homes to serve as a volunteer and have met many elderly people who were there because their children put them there. They rarely, if ever, saw their children and they hardly ever received a phone call from them. These are the same individuals who once thought that being a good parent was enough…that is until they saw that being a good parent who is appreciated and cared for is much better.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.5 million people live in nursing homes in the United States. This is pale in comparison to the 10 million Americans over the age of 65 who need long-term services and support to help them with daily activities, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

It’s a fact that all parents will grow to become grandparents who are in need of support on a daily basis someday. When this happens, it would be good to know that their children will be there to provide them with the support that they will need.

Having an expectation that your children will provide for your security is not something that is unrealistic or unfair. Currently, social security benefits are being cut and will be near null and void within the next decade. This being the case, it becomes more imperative that parents prepare their children for what they will need once they are unable to care for themselves.

Preparing your children for your old age

You can begin the process of preparing your children for your twilight years now so that they will be ready to serve your needs when the time comes. Start by making plans with your children on where you will live once you are no longer able to care for yourself.

This seems premature, especially if you are independent—however, you will need to have these types of things worked out so that there will be no surprises. When you and your children work together to plan your future, it will be a process that will be embraced and accepted by all involved.

In addition to discussing your living arrangements, you should start saving money so that your children will have the financial means to take care of you. Even if your children are financially stable, you will want to contribute to their finances so that you can ensure you are not a financial burden on them and their family.

Do not make the assumption that your children will have everything they need when the time comes for them to take care of you. If you choose to live in a nursing home, make sure you make arrangements with your children so that they can be a part of the process. Doing so just might help in ensuring their continued presence in your life at that time.

It’s unfortunate that we as parents must think of our future after retirement, but it’s the reality. Many Americans are suffering in their old age because they do not have the financial means in which to take care of themselves, they do not have the support of their families, and they are not in a position to receive the medical attention that they need.

This is why it is imperative for our children to be the foundation and support that we will come to rely on. Communicating with our children now about our plans later will help to make the transition so much better. Our expectations can indeed become our reality if we start planning now.

About Audra L.

Audra L. is an author, columnist and community activist who's dedicated to finding truth through research and effective communication. She received her degree in Public Policy and teaches Community Development, Public Speaking and Communications Law to youth throughout the nation. She is the recipient of over 23 awards and honors for her commitment to community outreach initiatives.

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