7 important things you should think about after your parents are 60

With the COVID-19 outbreak and without getting into too much detail, one of my grandparents became sick this year. It is something that will get better, thankfully, but in the midst of it all, I have found my parents are wholly unprepared for this stage in life. During these difficult times, I would like to write down some important things to prepare for this stage not only to maintain my own family, but also making decisions for my parents.

If you stand by without making plans then you may well be in for a bit of a shock and they can cost a lot more if you are unprepared. There are many steps you can take at every stage of life to help with the situation and make your life a lot more comfortable. And here are some of my thoughts seeing my parents’ experience.

1. Location matters

This comes to the stage when the worry of trying to be there for someone who lives far away is all I can think about, especially when you don’t own a car (this happens because I live in a big city — Hong Kong). So start considering to move closer to family to form an extended support network when there is an emergency.

2. Plan a budget

A good idea when considering the financial implications of your parents retiring is to make a retirement budget. What do they plan on doing? Will they be taking up any new hobbies? How expensive are they likely to be on a monthly basis? Do they have a bucket list they want to work through? Calculating how much they will need on a monthly and annual basis for retirement will make a multitude of other decisions you must make easier.

As far as I know from our financial adviser, you will need at least 70% of your pre-retirement salary to maintain your standard of living after retirement. With that in mind it’s important to start paying in to a private pension as early as possible and where possible keep a separate savings account for after your retirement that you pay into regularly and that earns as much interest as possible for you.

3. Life Insurance

Life insurance for your parents can be a good idea. It can also be a stressful subject to bring up. As you may know, the insurance premiums will be higher as your parents age. If you get a life insurance policy on a parent, you’ll need their consent. So, if a parent is showing signs of dementia, make sure to get it before it gets too advanced, so they still can give the consent. This topic gets involved with a lot of policies and can be seem complicated with different options, so do a little homework in advance of meeting with your parents.

4. Streams of income

Even after you help your parents streamline their expenses, they probably won’t have access to the traditional, work-free retirement lifestyle if they haven’t been saving diligently for years. So maybe it a good idea to start up a side hustle to generate income and protect their lifestyle. Maybe your dad’s success in the corporate world positions him for business coaching gigs. Or your mom’s love of gardening could earn her some light yard work. They could also rent out an extra room in the house on Airbnb. Side hustles can help you earn extra money and a lot of enjoyment for their work.

5. Stay healthy and mentally active

While the majority of the advices discussed so far are around finances, they’re by no means the only thing you need to consider. Looking after yourself and your parents by their drinking/smoking habits, staying active, keeping mentally alert will not only mean your parents live longer to enjoy their financial planning, you’ll also increase the amount of time you can remain independent and able. Staying physically and mentally active have a range of proven benefits from staving off depression to delaying/slowing down the onset of dementia.

6. Always be prepared and organised

It’s not nice to think about but one day you may have to come in and make decisions about your care for your parents. Try to make things easy for yourself by being organised with your parents’ documents. Make sure all their financial documents and plans are in one place. With them keep a clear list of everything coming in and out of their household finances, any savings or investments they have, any properties they own and any debts they might have. Knowing exactly what their finances are will be invaluable in sorting their care and making your life much easier when the time strikes.

7. Balancing Responsibilities

During this COVID-19 pandemic period, I was unemployed, but thankfully, I have a brother to go through with when my grandpa was in the hospital. Many people, whether or not they have siblings, struggle to balance elder care with growing family, work and social responsibilities. There are evidences that taking care of an elderly family member negatively impacts a caregiver’s health and increases stress. Without support in the workplace and access to services, caring for an elder can mean sacrificing wages, career growth and job security. Exiting the workforce to care for an ageing parent can be a cheaper alternative to assisted living or a nursing home, but it comes with its own financial consequences. If you think this might be an issue to you, there are plenty of outside resources such as elder care homes for assistance to counsel caregivers to set priorities that allow them to provide quality care, yet ensure they still have time and energy for their family and themselves.

Final Thoughts

This is an advice I always talk myself through, “You can’t control everything, but that’s okay.” People get old; it’s an inalienable fact of life and will happen to you.

Eventually, I’m so grateful to have a brother to go through this with, but it can still feel isolating. Nobody prepares you for this because nobody knows how it’s going to go until you’re right there. It’s surreal.

So if you’re in the trenches with me, just know that you are not alone. If you are alone to cry just a bit before you have to step again and be strong, I want to tell you are amazing. And positive and strong!