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Growing Old With a Good Friend

Even if you aren't afraid of getting older — it is, after all, an inevitable fact of life — it can be scary to think that you might grow old alone. I used to say that if I were single in my golden years, I'd want to have one of my good girlfriends by my side. We could reminisce about the good ol' times, complain about the kids these days, and sip cocktails out of coconuts. Better yet, we could take care of each other in our old age. As it turns out, some female friends are doing just that, and then some.

Yesterday I came across this post on the New York Times's The New Old Age blog, about single women who have set up joint housekeeping and medical care agreements, so they know someone is looking out for them even if they don't have husbands or children as caretakers. For the details,


Despite the fact that mere friendships aren't afforded legal status in this country, some friends are formalizing their love for each other with unique arrangements. Explains author Jane Gross:

Another friend, Ann, shares my fantasy of setting up joint housekeeping, assuming she outlives her husband. Our thinking goes something like this: If one of us can see and the other hear, if one of us is mobile and the other cognitively intact, we'll muddle through as long as we can and then pool our insurance premiums to hire home care. We'd prefer to use the benefit for a masseuse and a manicurist but know it would be a hard sell to persuade MetLife that those were the kinds of "activities of daily living" our policies cover.

I’ve written before about pairs or small groups of unrelated women who are already doing this, some even constructing houses designed for their old age. But these arrangements, however cozy and comforting, exist outside the law, since friendship remains, and likely will always remain, an unsanctioned relationship with none of the legal rights granted to parents, children, spouses and, in some locations, domestic partners.

As Gross points out, caring for friends in their old age may only be an option for people who are financially independent, since paid time off for caretaking wouldn't apply. But if you had a retirement cushion that allowed you to enter into such an arrangement, it could be a lovely way to live out your golden years. What do you think? Would you ever consider something like this?


Join The Conversation
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
I work in an old folks home and I imagine none of them envisioned outliving their husbands, having to take on the full responsibility of their houses and then... losing all their marbles. It's a good idea in theory but you never know who or when is going to lose their faculties first and it doesn't seem to matter what kind of life you led before it happens... it could happen to anybody! Then what?
allinavhcnerf allinavhcnerf 9 years
heh. this is sweet! it's definitely nice
Silverlining10 Silverlining10 9 years
I have no problem with this. I'm independent, but there is research to show people live longer when they aren't alone, and I'll move out if I get re-married. Before then, I don't see a problem living with good friends. I can save money, I'll always have someone to talk to, and I'll feel safer when I'm older.
PinkTulip PinkTulip 9 years
My best friend and I talk about sitting on the porch of one of our houses when we grow old! I would sooo do this!
ThePerfectScore ThePerfectScore 9 years
Love this post! Im readin it just as Golden Girls comes on! Rest in Peace Sophia~!!!
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 9 years
A couple of my closest friends and I plan to live out our old age together. It's kind of a joke right now...but it sounds good to me. :)
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
I agree -- this is like "The Golden Girls." For myself, I don't know. I'm very independent. For my old age (and if I happen to out live my husband), I visiualize myself living alone. I would be healthy, active, and dating. I would still have my original hip. :)
SomethingWicked SomethingWicked 9 years
Just like golden Girls....!! I always thought I would just live with some of my friends in a house for the rest of my life when I was a child. I figure when I get older and if my soon- to be husband goes before me (goddess forbid) then I would probably do the Golden Girls thing for sure!
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