Ask any Singaporean why they turned down that job offer in London or New York, and there’s a high chance he’ll say he needed to take care of his parents back here. With the rising cost of living leaving many seniors out in the cold, adult children often find themselves becoming their parents’ caregivers once the latter arrive at a certain age.
Never mind the fact that the Maintenance of Parents Act makes it possible for persons over 60 to compel their children to give them allowance by law. Here are five things you might want to consider doing to ease your parents’ passage into seniorhood.
Monitor their medical condition
By far the biggest expense that has the potential to rear its ugly head is medical care. Your parents might have had a fear of doctors, but now that you’ll be supporting them for the rest of their lives, it’s important to insist that they go for regular checkups and receive appropriate medical care early on. Don’t assume they can settle this on their own! I’m always amazed at how many people are supporting their elderly parents but have no idea when was the last time they went for a check up.
Make sure they don’t get scammed
It boggles the mind how some people could have gotten tricked by the infamous “magic stone” scam. In one variation of the scam, the perpetrators would get the victims to hand over their ATM cards so they could be placed in an envelope together with a magical stone that would enable the victim’s money to multiply. Uh huh, real convincing. Predictably enough, the victim would gleefully return home, open the envelope and discover his ATM card gone. D’oh! These days, scammers use even more sophisticated tricks, from housecalls from fake contractors to reverse mortgage scams that fool old people into signing away equity on their homes. Keep your parents updated on the latest scams and, if possible, monitor their financial activities.
Help them in estate planning
No, we’re not suggesting you try to wheedle your parents into leaving all their money to you. But if they haven’t done any estate planning for themselves, it’s up to you to nudge them in the right direction. You could introduce them to a nice lawyer who could make a will for them. Also educate them on the fact that they can make a CPF nomination if they wish, so they get to choose who inherits their CPF funds. In addition, raise the issue of a Power of Attorney, which lets a trusted person make financial decisions for them should they somehow become mentally incapacitated.
Arrange for caregiving
While government-created Singaporean ideal tends to be to have your parents live with you in your old age, the sad fact is that many people are just too busy working to give their parents the care that they need, especially if they have limited mobility or special healthcare needs. At some point, you might need to either hire a caregiver or have your parents live in a facility where they can be given the proper attention. Open communication is vital in such a situation, so you can find out just what your parents are comfortable with and what their preferences are.
Give them an allowance
This is the most basic form of parent maintenance Singaporeans practise, but it’s not as straightforward as you might think. Some people give a token percentage of their pay, while others are practically forced by their parents to fork over a specific amount. Whatever it is, if your parents are no longer in the workforce, it’s quite customary to provide them with an allowance so they can meet their day-to-day needs. Instead of simply doling out an arbitrary sum, it’s nice to sit them down and try to understand their spending needs a little more. At least you’ll find out if dad has been secretly hitting up the Turf Club races every week.
Do you support your parents? Tell us why or why not in the comments!