In Asian culture, it is very common for the children to bear the responsibility of taking care of their aged parents. However, Singapore is an ageing population with a spectacularly low birth rate. Many Singaporean couples have chosen to live without kids – which means they have to plan for their old age in advance.
This, in fact, applies to everyone and not just the ones with no children. Singaporean households are getting smaller with couples choosing to have fewer children. The elderly cannot take it as a given that their children will be able to financially support them.
A will and Lasting Power of Attorney
Don’t wait till you’re old to write your will. You can write it at any time, and if you change your mind, you can always write a new will to override the old.
“Make it a point to update your will when you and your partner are well and loving.” – Mr Daniel Tan, Co-Chairperson for Membership & Public Education, FPAS
Be sure to also include a backup executor and survivor clause (in case both partners perish simultaneously). List down all assets and how they should be distributed in the event of 1 person passing and both people passing etc. Decide on beneficiaries – any close unrelated people or a charitable organisation. Mr Tan also advises to seek 3rd party professional advice or have a trusted friend or relative hold access to critical items such as house keys, location of Will, names of lawyers, executors etc.
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 – nursing home or hiring a private care-giver. The latter can be costly unless you intend to hire a helper but do note that these domestic helpers are mainly trained in housekeeping and the basics of tending to kids and elderlies. They are not trained to care for elderlies with specific medical needs.
Make home elderly-friendly
There is an increase in the number of elderlies living alone, and if you’re without children, it is best to be prepared for the fact that living alone with health conditions may not be the easiest. You should plan to make your home more elderly-friendly by installing railings and non-slip floors. If you live in a HDB and are a Singapore citizen above 65, you can apply for subsidies for installing elderly-friendly home improvements under the EASE programme.
Ensure you have proper insurance coverage
Most people realise the importance of health insurance only when they are faced with a number of health issues, which more often than not happens when people reach old age. All major health insurance plans come with an age limit, you will not be covered indefinitely. Therefore, when choosing a health policy, make sure that it has an age limit that is suited to your needs. In Singapore, there is a Senior Citizen Health Insurance. You can apply for it as long as you’re between the ages of 50 and 75, and have a valid Singapore Identity card like NRIC or a work permit.