As you said everyones story is different. At age 49 I found myself at a career crossroads. Having lost my job in I.T. and my marriage on the rocks, I decided that a career chage was in order. Nursing is something that has always been of interest to me. I come from a family of service (mother was LPN, 2 sisters who are RN's, teachers, priests...). So, at age 50, I started my prereq's. There were many times when I thought I would give up. Working full time in a hospital as a nursing assistant and going to school is what 20 somethings do. Not 50 year old divorced men!
Now here it is 4 years later and I just completed my second semester of nursing school. It is indeed the most difficult, financially challenging thing I have ever done but also the most rewarding. I will be graduating in May, 2013 and after the birth of my children, it will be the proudest day of my life.
If you're a little older and feel that it's too hard or that you'll be too old when you graduate think of this...you'll be too old anyway so you may as well do something with the time. I can't think of anything better than training yourself to be in service to others.