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How to Manage Your Finances While Taking Care of Your Aged Parents in Singapore

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Joanne Poh

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If you were born Singaporean and can’t afford to take care of your parents, you’re going to get more than a smack on the butt. According to a recent report, a whopping 86% of aged Singaporeans declared that they could rely on their adult children for financial support.

When you can barely cough up the cash to keep your flat from being repossessed, having to financially support your aged parents can seem like a heavy burden. Here are a few tips to lower costs while still keeping mum and dad happy.

 

Make sure your parents have adequate medical insurance

It’s not your mum’s mahjong allowance or the budget for your dad’s 60th birthday that are going to do you in financially.

It’s medical bills should any serious health issues occur. If your parents are still in good health, breathe a sigh of relief, and then immediately start searching for good medical insurance polices for them.

Remember, this is a country where some people with kidney failure choose to die because they or their families can’t afford treatment. You really want to leave no stone unturned when it comes to protecting your family’s finances from being drained by unexpected illnesses, especially when you have elderly dependents.

Even if your parents already have some form of medical insurance, you want to review it when they’re in their silver years and determine if they need additional coverage. You might also want to consider silvercare insurance, which also covers the cost of caregiving and rehabilitation.

MoneySmart’s health insurance wizard enables you to compare prices quickly, so give it a shot  when shopping around for policies for mum and dad.

 

Make sure your parents go for regular medical checkups

If your parents are the pantang type who wilfully avoid medical checkups because they don’t want to know if something is wrong with them, you need to be the grown up and knock some sense into them.

A recent news report revealed that while more Singaporeans are getting cancer, more are surviving—mainly because of earlier detection. Still, cancer detection is late compared to other developed countries.

The fact that medical care is perceived as expensive and not paid for by the state might have something to do with people’s reluctance to go for regular screenings.

If you’re financially supporting your parents, it’s your responsibility to ensure they go for all recommended health screenings. Unfortunately, the duty to check for subsidies also falls to you.

If your mother is over 50 she enjoys the subsidised price of $50 ($75 for PRs) mammograms for detection of breast cancer, which can be paid through her or a family member’s MediSave account. Pap smears also cost just $15 for Singaporeans ($22.50 for PRs) at participating polyclinics.

Find out more about cancer screening recommendations here.

 

Help your parents plan their leisure activities

Remember how much you hated being forced to take piano lessons and attend tuition as a kid? Well, the tables have turned, and you now get to have some control over your parents’ free time if you’re their sole source of income.

We’re not suggesting you start prying into their personal affairs in a bizarre act of reverse-helicopter parenting when there is no financial impact to you. But if one of your parents has a gambling problem, borrows money from loansharks or otherwise spends more of your money than you can afford to give, you might need to intervene.

By talking to your parents about how they spend their free time, you can voice your concerns if they’re doing things that you simply can’t afford to support financially.

Bear in mind that your parents may not want to disclose exactly what they do when they’re not at home, nor do you have the right to force them to. I’m pretty sure the children of the uncles who hang out all night at the Joo Chiat pubs don’t know where they are. But you do have the right to decide how much allowance you give them.

In a best case scenario, you might be able to find out what your parents do in their spare time and then work together with them to try to cut costs. For instance, if your mum takes taxis to and from her cooking classes at the community club each weekend, you might offer to drive her there instead.

Similarly, if you discover that your dad is always sneaking off to the Resorts World casino with the other aunties and uncles, find out why—he could just be bored, in which case including him more frequently in family activities might help to curb the habit.

How do you balance caring for your aged parents and the need to look after your own finances? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.