“If you don’t plan to have children, who will take care of you when you grow old?” Does this sound familiar to you? Most likely, someone has said this to you before when you were younger. This is because many people rely on children for support when they get older. Now, you’re advancing into your golden years without children, and perhaps, without a spouse. Whether you choose to live alone or not, it’s necessary to proactively plan your future ahead. Here’s how you can come up with an action plan as you transition into senior life.
How To Navigate The Single Senior Life
Malaysia is fast approaching the status of an ageing nation. The World Bank predicts that those aged above 65 will make up 14 per cent of our population by 2044. In addition to this, a large number of elderly people tend to live alone while childless.
However, senior adulthood comes with additional concerns that grow with time, especially if you live independently. Apart from social and physical isolation, the financial and health risks that come along the way can become a serious matter as you age. There are 3 major considerations to take into account and protect yourself as a senior citizen in Malaysia: Legal, financial and healthcare.
Legal and financial management for senior life
Managing your legal and financial obligations is the first major step in preparing for the future as a senior citizen, regardless of your familial status. This is something worth paying attention to way before your retirement age.
Unfortunately, according to a financial literacy survey in 2021, about half of Malaysians spend what they earn and save less than RM500 per month. That’s not enough for insurance alone.
If that worries you, here are 6 ideas on how you can secure your legal and financial plans:
1. Manage your retirement funds and benefits
Social security systems like the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) are crucial for old-age financial protection. With medical costs rising in Malaysia, take full advantage of your EPF, SOCSO and other benefits regarding old age or any disabilities. You can make a full or partial withdrawal of your EPF funds upon retirement or at age 55 to manage long-term care costs, for instance.
Other than that, take a look at i-Saraan which is a retirement incentive for members who are self-employed or not earning a regular income. If you are widowed, Kasih Suri Keluarga Malaysia is an opportunity for you to access social security.
2. Apply for monetary assistance
Healthcare and welfare planning can be increasingly costly with age. With the help of monetary assistance from government and independent bodies, you’ll receive cash aids, medical benefits, tax reliefs, and business applications:
- Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia (BKM)
- Skim Mesra Usia Emas (SMUE)
- Senior Citizenship Appreciation Programme (for Penang)
Evaluate your options and apply on the MyGovernment portal. For the latest list on financial assistance for the elderly, read our article here or download our guide for key highlights from the Budget 2022 below:
3. Write your living will
Making your living will (or Wasiat in Malay) is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself. Your will is a black-and-white statement detailing your wishes about what happens to your inheritance after your demise. Without your will, your inheritance will be distributed according to the Distribution Act 1958 or according to the Faraid distribution for Muslims.
Depending on your requirements, you can draft your own will or approach your bank, a will-writing service provider or a specialised legal firm. That said, getting professional help is a safer option to avoid any complications in the future.
4. Seek expert help
Next, determine how much financial support you’ll need with the help of professionals. Financial advisors, lawyers, insurance planners and government bodies can assist you with financial management services. These are experts who cover a wide range of services from bill and tax payments to investments and asset planning to insurance coverage.
They are also licensed to guide and equip you with the tools and strategies you need as you prepare for your next stage in life. Some questions you may want to ask that they can cover are:
- What is my status and eligibility for government assistance?
- How and when is the best time to get long-term care insurance?
- What is the best way to invest my money as a senior citizen?
- How often do I need to update my legal arrangements?
- What can I do to offset some of my expenses?
5. Pre-authorise your allies using legal tools
Power of attorney and living trusts are legal documents that designate authority to a person to act on behalf of another individual. This situation typically applies to financial and property matters where the individual is authorised to make decisions if you are incapacitated.
He or she will have the power to help you pay bills, sign contracts or speak to your financial advisor. If you don’t have a spouse or children, you’ll have to choose the next closest person to you, that is, a close relative or friend that you can truly trust.
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6. Simplify your senior lifestyle
An additional step to preserving your financial health is to simplify your lifestyle. Consider downsizing into a more affordable and more manageable place. Try getting roommates that can share expenses, provide company and assist with your deteriorating health. Adopt a minimalist lifestyle by recycling supplies, thrift shopping, and downgrading or cancelling any unnecessary memberships or subscriptions.
Long-term care preparations for senior life
Another big step in planning your senior adulthood is getting elderly care. As you grow older, you may find yourself struggling to hear, see or remember things. These are the first signs of the ageing process. Eventually, this develops into a gradual physical and mental decline.
The good news is you can live longer, healthier lives if you start planning early. Here are another 4 goals concerning health care that you can incorporate into your plans for senior adulthood:
7. Going for regular health screening
Regular health screening is critical for anyone looking to maintain or improve their lifestyles and quality of life. There are many health screening types across life stages, from basic physical exams to full-body check-ups.
As you emerge into senior adulthood, you’ll want to consider more comprehensive tests, particularly if you have one or more chronic conditions. If the crowds and queues at hospitals irk you, try in-home health screening, which allows you to access health screening while staying put at home.
8. Engage elderly care services
Seniors are not equipped to care for themselves, especially if they have one or more medical conditions. However, single older adults with no children live alone and do not have anyone around to attend to their needs. They may require a caregiver who is well-equipped with the skills and knowledge to provide nursing care. Hence, engaging in professional elderly care services can be beneficial for your various needs.
Engaging Holistic Care For Yourself
9. Care for yourself in the present
Be intentional about caring for your well being right here and now because your future health depends on it. Being mindful of your body, mind and spirit can help you cope with stressful life events. Additionally, it slows down the process of ageing. Incorporate healthy activities in your routine like exercising, meditating, eating well and trying new hobbies. The benefits include preserving your physical cognitive and physical performance and preventing burnout.
Is there a senior club in your neighbourhood? Consider joining one. A support group connects you with other family caregivers that support one another by sharing their personal experiences and practical resources that help you in your journey of ageing. Check out the Citizens’ Club by YMCA and SECITA.
10. Prepare for end-of-life
Lastly, your final stages when you reach the end of the road can be an emotional and painful time. You’re allowed to feel afraid about your final days, but don’t let that get in the way of having important conversations about death. The people you’ll want to discuss this topic with are your legal and financial advisors. Find out how you can make end-of-life or palliative care arrangements, address your concerns and convey your preferences.
Make sure to inform your extended family and support groups as well about your wishes and plans. This gives them time to prepare and have the chance to say goodbye.
Ultimately, preparing for senior adulthood as a single with or without the help of family is no walk in the park. For that reason, careful and thorough planning in your earlier days is key. Need help with elderly care planning? Rest assured we’re here for you. Explore our wide range of holistic healthcare at any stage of life.
To help you in the process, Homage offers a zero-commitment consultation with its Care Advisors to better understand your care needs and offer some clarity on the services that Homage can provide. For more information or to schedule a call, fill this form.