Financial Planning for the elderly and by the elderly

Lalitha Ramachander

Routinely a number of articles appear in newspapers and magazines about the problems of the elderly. They usually focus on the various illnesses that plague them or the loneliness and depression they face. We do not see too many articles on their finance. We are not talking about saving for the future but about handling the existing finance to take care of their needs during their life time.

According to a survey, the healthy life span of an Indian male has gone up from 56 years in 1990 to 65.16 in 2013 and that of women from 60 to 68.5 during the same period. Assuming they live another 10 to 15 years more, we are talking about an aging population in the age group 75 to 85. Women outlive their spouse by about 10 to 15 years. So that brings us to the big question – are these women equipped to handle their finances? In the present scenario, many of these elderly live and manage on their own. Even presuming their children give a helping hand, it is essential that these women know where they stand with regard to their finances. Women in general and in India in particular (especially in the age group we are talking about), leave all financial matter to the men in the family. There is a possibility that this can lead to unexpected unpleasant situations with the children. So it is better that women do not shy away from taking responsibility for their money matters – YES, MONEY MATTERS!

So what does an elderly couple do? It is essential that they sit together and discuss the finance and have a complete up-to-date record of all their investments in an accessible place– moveable and immovable - the sources of their income, bank accounts in joint names or as either/survivor, nomination given in all their investments, jewelleries listed and a proper Will, in place. Ideally all wealth must be in both their names and inherited by their children only after their life time. This is not any negative reflection on the children but a safeguard against things going wrong.

Age also brings with it memory loss and certain confusion while discharging everyday work. The children should keep an eye on the way their parent/s handle everyday life, without being aggressively dominating or intrusive. They must step in to handle the issue with sensitivity while all the time ensuring that the help is welcome and in good spirit. They must keep them involved but remove their burden. It is in everybody’s interest to be practical and systematic in dealing with this sensitive issue of finance.

A ‘panic button’ to help elders

Vaishali R Venkat

panic button

Here is a free device for underprivileged seniors to bail them out of emergencies

Aathma Foundation has launched ‘Aathma Panic Button,’ a device for senior citizens that is meant to help them in emergencies.

Water-proof, the device can be worn even when the person is taking a bath. The button works on the basis of a platform called Cuckoo Server, which converts sound waves into a voicemail. The moment a person presses the panic button, a pre-recorded voicemail about him/her is sent as three messages — to the 108 ambulance, a neighbour and an immediate relative.

Someone in charge of 108 ambulance will call the neighbour or the relative and ask them about the condition of the person. If he is fine, the matter ends there. Otherwise, the ambulance will arrive at the spot in ten minutes.

Earlier, at an inauguration function held at the Egmore museum, the device was given free-of-cost to 100 senior citizens in need.

Next month, the Foundation will give away 100 free buttons to underprivileged senior citizens. However, for those who could afford it, the device comes at a cost of Rs.7,500.

In addition to the panic button, the Foundation gives free medicines to those having diabetes, hypertension or cardiac conditions.

The free medicines is couriered along with a “bill of receipt”, to patient’s house. The bill has to be signed and a photo of it sent to the Foundation’s WhatsApp number. Once the signature is received, the cost of the medicines will be paid to Muthu Pharamacy, which supports the initiative.

“Though medicines will be given for free over the lifetime of the beneficiary, the patients cannot approach us directly. They have to come through doctors in their areas and the patients have to produce the doctor’s prescription, every month.

This is because dosage of medicines for hypertension, cardiac conditions and diabetes may change often. We will also check with the doctor to find out if the patient is really underprivileged. Those who can afford these medicines will not be considered for this initiative,” says Dr. D. Suresh, chairman, Aathma Foundation, who also runs Amma Hospital.

The Foundation not only provides free medicines for the needy. It also provides them with home-nursing and home physiotherapy services. Half of the cost towards these services will be borne by the Foundation.

Through an initiative called ‘Amma Saranalayam,’ the Foundation is providing monthly packages for those who are bedridden, senior citizens and terminally-ill patients. “By this initiative, all the requirements of the patients, including food, accommodation and medicinal care are being taken care of.

The medical services are provided round-the-clock, under the guidance of doctors and paramedical staff. If necessary, physiotherapy, ICU care, super-specialty consultations and pain management will be provided too as part of a reasonable package,” says Suresh.

For more details, contact Pushpa at 9791151719 or Manikandan at 8939484501.

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