The long, lonely and cruel road ahead for many senior citizens
THE oft-quoted phrase, “Youth is wasted on the young,” cannot ever be accepted as gospel truth, and our society must never abandon efforts to help young people understand that if they live long enough, they will become senior citizens.
We know by hard experience that for most old men and women in our country the prospect is dark and cruel, the road long and lonely and, regrettably, sometimes only death can soothe the suffering.
For that reason, we applaud the article in the Sunday Observer by Miss Grace G McLean, a financial advisor and retirement specialist at BPM Financial Limited, who attempts to bring clarity about the life often faced by senior citizens here.
Those who have had to live with a senior citizen know that Miss McLean is absolutely on point for emphasising that health and medical costs should not be overlooked in planning for retirement.
Of course, it is true that while one is young and strong — with great health, vim and vigour — the last consideration is going to be about putting aside funds for the distant retirement to come. Too many young people believe that by the time retirement arrives they would have garnered enough to take them through.
Unfortunately, some of them believe that if they do not garner enough, their children will be able to provide for them, relying on the old discredited myth that children are their old-age pension.
The anecdotes about children who abandon their sick and indigent parents, sometimes not out of wickedness but because they just cannot take care of their own needs, are copious and the stories too painful to tell.
“The challenges of health-care costs can be a vexed issue for many retirees… With many pensioners receiving a fixed income for life and rising inflation, it has proven quite difficult for some retirees and their family members to cope with health-care costs,” said Miss McLean.
“Last week a retired couple asked my advice on managing their health cost. They both receive monthly pension income, but rising health cost is depleting their funds. Another retiree is a cancer patient who went on early retirement. She is not yet 60 years old and her mortgage is more than her monthly pension…
“Another retiree informed me that his pension was adequate 15 years ago but has now proven inadequate to meet his financial needs. Though working on a part-time basis, he is not able to maintain the lifestyle that he previously enjoyed, and managing health-care costs has become a major concern.”
None of this is new nor made up. A visit to a State home for indigents could easily leave one disillusioned about old age. The lack of dignity that goes with it is enough to leave one in tears and dread about reaching senior citizenship.
Miss McLean’s advice that the three major costs that people may encounter in retirement are housing, transportation, and health costs, should be heeded. “Health-care inflation is likely to grow faster than general inflation, and with people living longer, retirees should anticipate huge costs for health care in retirement.”
Very usefully, Miss McLean points to two organisations which can prove very helpful to pre-retirees — the Caribbean Community of Retired People (CCRP) and First Care. There may be others too.
We commend them to our readers.