Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Elderly - Part IV

17. Entertainment, hobbies, computers & travel

Learn to find the things in life that keep you entertained, happy and make your life interesting and enjoyable. It could be your passion for a game of cards with friends, listening to your favourite music, your interest in pets or cooking up lip-smacking dishes.

Here are a few hints: · Its never too late to take interest in a hobby. The only requisite is that you should find it interesting. · Go to a bookstore and browse the books on all subjects that you think might interest you. This is a good way to pick up a hobby. · Search for like-minded people, clubs and activities. The Internet is a great place to do this. · If you have a lot of knowledge in your favourite hobby, approach schools and colleges to encourage youngsters to start a club. Offer your services to educate them on this.
· Set aside some time to pursue your interests. This will make you look forward in anticipation and keep your spirits alive. · Social service can bring a lot of. satisfaction and sense of achievement. See if there is a club near you where you can offer to do some service. Better still, start a club. You might not get a good response initially, but never give up.

Books are great companions. They provide food for thought, entertainment, humour, education and much more to anyone who befriends them, Seniors, especially those who were voracious readers in their younger days, find that books are their best companions, in spite of the varying entertainment provided by television and the media.
It is common practice in India for the elderly to go on a pilgrimage, or visit their children who live far away. This is a nice way to spend one’s time. The elders not only get spiritual satisfaction but also a lot of happiness when they are able to bond with their grandchildren.
The very attitude of neglecting to learn something because one is old is wrong and this is more important where computers are concerned.
Computers can be used by elders for. · Sending and receiving e-mail · Communicating with their children and grand children · Making new friends and interacting with like-minded people. · Reaching their business contacts. · Using the Internet for information or entertainment. · Storing all information relating to investments, insurance, etc. · Day to day accounts • Copies of important documents Computers are user friendly and elders can easily learn to use year old knows to use the
e-mail and the Internet. One can take help of someone who is familiar with tile use of computers or join a computer class offering the basics. It will just take a few hours of practice to familiarise oneself.

18. The Second Career

Unlike in the US, Europe and other developed countries, where the social security system and health services take care of the retired elderly, the resources in India both from the government and the private sector is very limited to provide the elderly many basic benefits like health care, food, housing and insurance. Many children of this generation are sadly neglecting the need of their parents. In fact the joint family system has broken down leading the youngsters to stay away from their parents most often letting the elders to fend for themselves. Many of the retired Indians have invariably borrowed heavily on their retirement funds to conduct their daughter’s marriage or for some such expenses, which they are not able to pay back.
For all these reasons it is up to the elderly to find a definite source of income for themselves. And what better to do it than find a comfortable job ?
But a second career is not for economic reasons alone. It keeps the elderly physically and mentally occupied, and in turn helps them to lead an active life. It also increases their self-confidence and self-esteem. So even those who are financially comfortable can decide to take up career and enjoy the benefit of healthy living.
While a “quiet life” may seem an excellent idea for people who have worked all their lives, most of the elders cannot remain idle and sit back after a while. Moreover, the invaluable benefit of being in good health by keeping the body and mind busy, cannpt be over emphasised.
So, to work or not is an individual decision that will have to be taken depending on one’s own desire and circumstances. The work need not be necessarily a paid job. It could even be voluntary service or work rendered by a neighbourhood association. One could teach music or hold cookery classes. There is no doubt that a person who is active remains sound in body and mind.
Unfortunately, the jobs open to most elders are limited. It is for the society to recognise this and make available more jobs for the elderly. The Central and State governments should took at this growing elderly population and make available those kind of jobs that ‘Senior Citizens can handle comfortably.
One should learn to adjust with society and accept some limitations. The job available may not be exactly of the same status as when one was younger. But it is the dignity of work that matters.
You can browse through the classified advertisements and appointment ads in the local dailies for a suitable opening or insert an inexpensive ad in the classified columns of the local dailies offering your services (Free Ads and AD Mag will publish your ad without any charge).

19. Money Matters

Most often, after their retirement the elders in India have no income at all. In the villages the conditions are worst. About 37.5 percent of the total Indian population is in the work force in one way or the other. Out of this only about 11 % is covered under institutionalised Provident fund/pension schemes (35 million), the remaining 89% remains uncovered without any social security provision . Even those persons who are getting pension will have to be careful since it is doubtful whether the government can pay pension for long. At present, the government spends Rs. 29,000 crores on pension. This expenditure is going to rise and soon match with half the salaries bill of the employed population. This spells danger to the financial structure of the nation. The government is considering this very deeply. It will not be surprising if the pensioners have to face ‘golden handshake’ schemes in the near future. Many other schemes are also being considered. There will be some schemes in which the employees will have to contribute a part of their salaries for the pension.
Earlier the interest rate on deposits had risen up to 16%. Now, the rates have fallen down up to 8% and will be brought down further to 5 to 6%.
It is for these reasons that the senior citizens have to form a policy for the management of their finances, taking into consideration that they are going to face heavy reduction in their income. For this, they will have to have a very clear idea of their financial· expectations and responsibilities.
· Regular income suitable for economic stratum.
· Provision for unexpected and accidental occasions.
· Should be able to take care of financially dependent persons.
· Provision for daughter’s wedding.
· One must pay proper income tax.
· One must take full care when investing money. Economic safety should be the prime consideration
· One must make financial provision for the spouse and other dependents so that they will be looked after even after one’s death. For this purpose, the spouse must have full knowledge of the financial matters.
Some elderly persons can stay with their children after their retirement. Thus the burden of their expenditure is lightened to some extent. But this arrangement is becoming increasingly inconvenient because of nuclear family system coming into practice. In short, it is essential that one must be self-reliant.
The following basic financial needs to be taken care of as one gets older.
House rent, house tax, repairs of the house, gas, electricity, servant’s salary, vehicle insurance, medical expenses, religious expenses (Deepavali, Xmas, Ramzan, etc.)
Food, clothes, traveling, small repairs, contributions, post, telephone, etc.
The amount spent on these necessities is based on one’s financial status and lifestyle. One gross way of determining the financial status of a family is to delete one-third amount from the joint annual income of a couple and observe the style in which the couple lives in the two-third of the income. This decides the financial status of the couple. If the saving habit has been neglected in the period of employment, it will have to be followed in the retirement period and one-third of the annual income will have to be saved. In the present times of loan culture, wrong decisions are taken under the irjJluence of attractive advertisements. Essential safety measures like living with one’s means, monthly savings, etc. are not undertaken arid people find them selves facing economic disaster. A survey has found that most of the senior citizens become a financial liability to the succeeding generation, within a couple of years after their retirement. There might be some other reasons also for this. Some of the common problems faced by the senior citizens are mentioned below and they should get the correct information to avoid them: ·
Ups and downs in the existing share market take place so fast that it is becoming difficult for the senior citizens to follow them and indulge in the market. Sometimes the dealings in the share market can prove to be dangerous for the common senior citizen. The same holds true with equity schemes of mutual funds. Only constant transactions can bring benefits in these two areas but age prevents the senior citizens from doing so.
Some finance companies, industries pay more interests. But chances are that these might be risky and illegal too. Common man who cannot probe deeply into these schemes, falls a prey for them and loses even the invested amount. Some private and cooperative banks al~o offer higher interest rates, but it is essential to be cautious there also .

Some senior citizens hand over their earnings and movable and immovable properties to their sons in their lifetime, and become financially dependent on them. In these circumstances, the death of the husband can raise many problems for the wife and she can be made to lead a humiliated life.
· Ignorance of Income tax rules prevents many persons from taking proper decisions.
· They cannot increase their earnings. Some have to pay fine on income tax unnecessarly. Some avoid paying income tax altogether, which is not only improper but illegal too.
· The failure to make a Will can cause tremendous loss for the person and his spouse and humiliation follows.
· Women generally avoid learning and looking after financial management. So they face numerous problems and humiliation after the death of their husbands.
The decisions about investment vary according to the individuals. The decisions are taken in accordance with the condition, needs and wishes of every individual. But one thing is common - none of them is prepared to take risk and yet many investors are cheated. They lose their entire money as they do not anticipate this failure.
Before making any investment two vital points need to be considered, one is how much risk of losing money is involved and the other is how much return can be expected from it. Increasing age makes us less prepared to face risk and lose money and we turn to safe/reliable investments. But risk and returns go hand in hand. It is better to reject attractive offers of large returns on
One should try and avoid eating into the capital but try to increase it if possible. The following guidelines will be useful
· Take all the decisions only after full consideration. Study the information available about each investment very carefully.
· Keep a diary about the maturity dates and renewals of deposits/investments.
Keep a check on interest received.
· Consult an expert whenever necessary.
· Keep all certificates, notices, etc. In a safe place well outside the reach of anybody.
· Keep the originals of all important papers in bank lockers.
· Avoid flock mentality - Do not invest in schemes without proper consideration, just because many people, friends, relatives are doing the same.
· Do not take any decisions because the commission, brokerage or reward is attractive.
.Do not be dazzled by the name of a big company or an individual and believe blindly that the schemes they have launched must be good and invest in it .
· Do not be carried away by a flood of emotions. Be courageous and say No.
These are some suggestions for managing your income and living within your means:
1. THRIFT: Maintain a diary to record your daily expenses under various items, take yearly stock and decide on avoidable spending. You could cut down on items like giving presents, entertainment and eating out expenditures
2. GOOD HEALTH: Regular exercises and proper diet help to preserve good health and reduce the chances of falling ill. Thus medical expenses can be saved. Regular medical check-ups with doctor’s advice and proper care can go a long way in saving medical expenses.
3. MIGRATION: Instead of living in costly cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, one can migrate to smaller towns. One can even think of selling the flat or house and buy a smaller and cheaper house in small town and use tlle savings in investments towards a regular income.
4. COMMUNITY LIVING: In this scheme, two or three lonely couples or persons could come together. and stay under one roof and maintain themselves by pooling together a part of their income, This will help reduce the expenses of everybody. And everyone will get good support from each other in the times of difficulty.
5. COMMUNITY BUYING: If three or more senior couples form a group and purchase fresh vegetables, fruits, daily necessities from wholesale market, they can save a lot of expenses. The couples can take turns in doing the marketing and make it a weekly or fortnightly affair.
6. MEDICARE: LICs Scheme like “Nav Prabhat” and “Senior Citizens’ Unit Plan (SCUP)” from UTI offer risk and medical care for senior citizens. Such schemes can protect seniorc citizens from expenses for prolonged illnesses, accidents, thefts, etc.

Classification of safety in investment is given below:
Signs indicating evaluation of credibility Utmost safety FAAA or MAAA High safety FAA or MAA Sufficient safety FA or MA Fair safety . FB or MB High risk FC or MC Company endangered FD or MD

20. Making Your Will

As one becomes older there is need to facilitate the easy disbursement of one’s possessions and properties to one’s loved ones and dependents, so that there will be no legal battles among them. For this reason it is advisable that everyone with some property or wealth should prepare a “WILL’
A “Will” can be defined as “A legal statement written by an individual, stating the manner in which his or her wealth may be distributed after his or her demise” A , person making a Will is known as a “Testator”.

It is best that one consults an advocate before preparing a Will. It would be better if the advocate is a person in whom you have the’ utmost confidence.

Here are some guidelines to prepare a WILL:
· It is better to make a Will at a younger age. As and when events or changes in the family or circumstance necessitate changes, the Will can be altered. One of the advantages of making a Will at an earlier age is that unscrupulous relatives could contest the legality of the Will made by a very old person on the basis that the person was not of sound mind when the Will was made.
· A Will must always be dated. If more than one will is made then the 0ne having the latest date will nullify all other wills.
· A Will should be Simple, Precise and Clear Otherwise there may,be problems for the legal heirs. Sometimes relatives and others may try to distort the interpretation of the Will for their own benefit.
· A Will can be hand-written or typed out. No stamp paper is necessary.
· There should be an “Executor of the Will” who would be entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that the assets are distributed according to the provisions of the Will. The Testator (person making the Will) should take prior consent of the person whom he or she wishes to name as the Executor.
· A Will should be signed by the Testator in the presence of at least two witnesses who have to attest the same. The full names and addresses of the witnesses should be clearly indicated in the Will. It would be better if one of the witnesses is a medical practitioner, but this is not essential. The practitioner should certify that the Testator is of sound mind (especially if the Testator is of an advanced age) and he or she should also note his or her registration number and degree (educational qualification). A witness should not be a beneficiary of the Will. A witness should also not be an Executor of the Will.
· Each page of the Will should be serially numbered and signed by the Testator and the Witnesses. This is to prevent substitution, replacement or insertion of page by persons with fraudulent intentions. At the end of the Will the Testator can indicate the total number of pages in the Will. Corrections if any should be countersigned.
· The Will may be kept in a safe place like a bank vault. The Executor. and the beneficiaries should be informed where the Will is kept. It is advisable to keep a signed copy of the Will with a trusted advocate. · .Sometimes the value of certain items of the assets (example: value of share certificates) may fluctuate. In such situation, it is better to mention percentage of such item/s which should go to each beneficiary. · .Whenever changes in the f~mily circumstances or other reasons necessitate any changes in the Will in the intervening period (from the time of making the Will to the time of demise of the testator), the structure of the will can be amended. Even if there are changes in the nature of the property or assets, an Amendment may be needed.
· For making changes only in certain clauses of the Will, a Codicil (supplement’) is to be prepared which should be read in conjunction with the Will and which has the power to make appropriate changes in the relevant clauses of the Will.
· If there are too many changes in the Will, it is better to prepare an entirely new Will. · It is not compulsory for one to register a Will with the registering authority, but in case any property or asset is given to any charitable Organisation, then registration should be done.
· A person’s Will becomes operative only after his or her demise. There is no restriction in the way a person can deal with his or her property even after writing a Will.

1. Dr. Indira Jai Prakash, Bangalore University. a. Aging - The Indian Experience. b. Psychological Gerontology.
2. Dr. G. D. Thapar, M.D. - Life After Fifty.
3. Dr. V S. Natarajan - a. Healthy Ageing b. Ageing India: Problems and solution.
4. S. Vijaya Kumar - Social Security for the Elderly in India.
5. Seniorindian.com.
6. Sreevals and P S. Nair - Elderly and Old Age Homes in Kerala.
7. S. Narayanrao, B.E. - Yoga for Senior Citizens.
8. Senior Citizens Forum, Pune - 7th Seminar Report.
9. Book of Life.

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