This was precisely what happened to retired librarian Doris Cutler. At the age of 80, she was fit and well, and enjoying life in the bungalow overlooking Swansea Bay that she had bought with her husband 30 years ago.
After his death, she had been determined to stay in her home, surrounded by friends and neighbours. Even when signs of dementia emerged she was resolute, and an army of carers were hired to keep her at home.
After a fall this winter, at the age of 85, everything changed.
Her daughter Diana said: "It was just untenable for her to stay at home. She was extremely confused, and needed around-the-clock care and that meant a nursing home."
Selling the home was the only option.
Absolutely - a significant asset perhaps with sufficient capital to provide for a comfortable and dignified end to Mrs Cutler's life. What exactly is the problem? Are we suggesting - as this article does - that somehow using this capital is wrong? Or that taxpayers - many of them without good incomes or significant assets - should pay for Mrs Cutler's care so her daughter can inherit the "family home"?
And, of course, Mrs Cutler's home is not a 'family home' and this sort of statement presents a lie:
Inevitably, many who spend decades working hard to provide a home for their family, will still be forced to sell up when frailty overwhelms them.
In the case cited the "family" appears to consist of a 53-year-old daughter - who is probably employed and living in her own "family home" somewhere else. That is the typical situation - there will be exceptions (and, I've no doubt sad and tragic exceptions) but most octogenarians aren't providing a home for their families.
Rather than this emotional (and misleading) tugging at the heart-strings of family, we should be asking how we get people to plan for the likelihood of care requirements - indeed the inevitability of such needs. We should be speaking with our own families about how we deal with the funding of care. This means considering savings, releasing asset value and, yes, should it be necessary, selling property. After all, you can't take it with you, can you!