Soon after my 50th birthday, 10 years ago, I started keeping a list of “Things I will do/things I won’t do when I get old.”
It was a highly judgmental, and super secret, accounting of all the things I thought my parents were doing wrong. My dad lied chronically about taking his meds. He refused to get a hearing aid, telling others to “up their audio” (he had been a television producer). My mom smoked behind my back (she thought) until the day she was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was all too easy to call them out, and I recognized over and over just how awful it is to become feeble, sick and increasingly absent-minded, or worse.
Over the next decade I accumulated many pages of dos and don’ts, even as I fretted about exactly when I’d be old enough to start following my own advice.
Who cares? When picturing a caregiver, the person who comes to mind is almost invariably female. She is young (or young-ish). She looks healthy. She...