Singaporeans are becoming extinct thanks to our spectacularly low birth rate. Children have traditionally been the ones responsible for providing the elderly with financial and physical support, but a few decades from now, things are going to very different.
Actually, we’re not just referring to the many future senior citizens who’ll be childless. As Singaporean households shrink and even those with kids choose to have fewer, the elderly will no longer be able to take it for granted that their kids will be able to financially support them.
In any case, if the thought of changing diapers or spending your weekends at the pool or some shopping mall playground makes you nauseated, enjoy your child-free years, but also make sure you do the following to prepare yourself for old age.
Make a Lasting Power of Attorney
We all know how Yang Yin tried to get his hands on his rich benefactor’s fortune by getting her to execute a Lasting Power of Attorney in his favour. The Yang Yin saga shows you just how important it is that you get someone you trust to handle your assets when you might no longer be able to do so.
While most Singaporeans with children would probably appoint one of their kids to handle their assets using an LPA, those without kids really need pick their attorney with care. As family sizes shrink, it will be more and more difficult to find someone who you’re sure will act in your best interests.
Not making an LPA, on the other hand, means that should you lose your mental capacity to make decisions on your behalf someday, all those assets you’ve painstakingly amassed over a lifetime could be taken from you by unscrupulous people.
Consider your options for old age care and how you’re going to finance them
A lot has been said of the dismal state of old age homes in Singapore. We’re still light years behind other developed countries when it comes to providing affordable and dignified places to grow old in.
Local nursing homes are notorious for cramming way too many residents into one room, being heavily oversubscribed and being so expensive many elderly people only get admitted when they have multiple medical issues and really can’t manage any longer.
That’s why so many Singaporeans have headed across the Causeway to grow old in Johor, where they can enjoy private rooms at a price they or their families can actually afford.
Even if you’re determined to maintain your health for as long as you can, it’s advisable to have a back-up plan for when you’re no longer able to look after yourself. Have a clear idea of the costs of all your options and how you’re going to pay for them. It’s a good idea to look to neighbouring countries if you can’t afford local nursing homes, or prefer to have more for less.
There’s also the option of hiring a private caregiver to look after you at home, but expect this to be costly, unless you intend to do what many Singaporeans do for their parents and hire a maid. Be warned that these maids are trained to clean houses and jaga kids, not look after frail old people with medical needs.
Be prepared to make your home more elder-friendly
There’s a rising number of elderly Singaporeans living alone, a number that has tripled since 2000. If you don’t have kids (or even if you do), you should be prepared for the fact that living alone will get tough as your health declines.
At some point, it will be a good idea to make your home more elderly-friendly, such as by installing railings and making floors slip-proof. All this costs money, which will come out of your retirement nest egg, so start planning early for this expense.
Consider buying old age insurance
Assuming you’re lucky enough to make it to old age without dying, you definitely want to consider insurance to keep yourself afloat should the worst happen.
Old age or silvercare insurance is becoming more and more relevant to our ageing population, and can make growing old a bit less expensive by offering payouts should you get into an accident, need a caregiver or go to a nursing home, or have to make your home more elder-friendly.
Write a will
If you don’t have kids or a spouse, it’s harder to know where your assets will go when you die. Assuming your parents and grandparents have passed away, your estate will go to your siblings and their children. If you’re an only child, your uncles and aunties will get your estate.
Now, if you think your nephews and nieces are spoilt brats and hate the thought of those nosey aunties you see only during Chinese New Year getting their hands on your cash, you’d better make a will so your estate goes to people or causes you really care about, whether they be your best friend or the SPCA.
Don’t wait till you’re too old and senile to validly create a will. You can do it at any time, even now while you’re still a spring chicken. If you change your mind you can always write a new will to override the old.
How are you preparing for old age? Tell us in the comments!