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Enjoy Your Retirement

You have worked some 50 years of your life. So,  when it is time to retire, it should be something to celebrate and look forward to rather than dread it.  You are the master of your retirement and if you take care of several key aspects today, it can be a fulfilling one.

Stages in Retirement

In reality, what constitutes retirement can be drilled down to the following stages.  Some may experience all four while others may experience less.

During Stage 1 a person may have just retired and is still independent.  There maybe actively travelling or they even  undertake contract work on selected days.  Some may help out with their children’s family.  So, their lifestyles will start to change.

During Stage 2,  may see an increase in health issues which requires more attention and funds for example experiencing knee and joint pains, advancement of existing issues such as high blood pressure, cholesterol etc. New health problems such as vertigo may all creep in.  At this stage, there is still independence in caring for oneself and even for others.

During stage 3, some may suffer memory loss or disorientation.  Loss of mobility may increase thus the senior may require assistance.

Nevertheless, the day to day activities of bathing, feeding and clothing oneself is doable.  Hence, household chores and other activities may require assistance either from loved ones or hired help.

By stage 4, some may be bedridden or confined to a wheelchair being totally dependent on loved ones or hired help.  Some may stay in a nursing home which can provide not only daily care but the necessary medical monitoring.

There is no age definition to the stages above as it differs from person to person.   However, what needs to be highlighted is that at each of this stage, the financial and logistics requirements are different.

Understanding and accepting these stages, and planning for them will help one transit from stage to stage better.

Loved ones will also find it easier to care for their aged parents. By planning ahead which is something most people want in their retirement years.

Major factors that need to be considered monthly:-

Food, dietary changes may be necessary

Medication for existing health conditions

Physical aid for instance the use of wheelchair, modification to the car

Modification of one’s home

Level of daily care coming from family members or hired help

Who will be the primary caregiver when the need arises

Holidays yes we may retire from work, not from life

Personal and property protection

Medical and hospitalisation.

Above all, psychological support is also key to keep the balance between the aged and the family members so that harmony, love and respect prevails. 

Caregivers also need a break so  other family members or a qualified caregiver maybe required to give a helping hand.

Where to Stay

This consideration raises from family to family.  Have your own home?  Great, do you need to renovate your home to accomodate each different stage of retirement?  If your adult children can accommodate you, do consider if their home and location are suitable for your stay when mobility becomes an issue.

Practical residences for the aged and their care givers, especially those with mobility issues would either be single storey house with a flat, horizontal layout or condominium with flat floor space and lift access to the unit. Negotiating stairs and split level flooring is challenging for wheelchairs.

Do you rent or buy?  What about upkeep of the residence for example the repainting, repair and replacement of furniture and fittings?

Calculating Your Retirement Needs

Retirement is more than just a number.  The general rule-of-thumb commonly used to calculate your financial needs it retirement has been to take your last drawn salary before retirement and discounting it to 60% or 75% as the amount required for the duration of your retirement.

Then you work out how many years you will be in retirement, factor in the inflation rate and you will have the magic number you would need for retirement living.

In reality, do consider how you will be at the different stages of retirement and the long term care needed later before plonking down the numbers needed.  Use of financial instruments may help manage finances.  Protection products such as insurance and takaful, estate planning products such as wills, trusts, hibah or wasiat could form part of planning ahead.

Just a point to note is at Stage 4, if a person needs to stay in a home, the cost for a decent unit with 24-hour medical care may range from RM2,000-RM5,000 per month, depending on location, facilities and number of people in the home.

The above factor will help derive the number and determine how far one’s Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings will go.                                                                Any shortfall with EPF funds will have to be topped up with more savings today and ensure these savings keep up with current lifestyle inflation to avoid falling short during retirement.

Therefore, rather than using the rule of thumb method, it may be prudent to look at one’s own family health history against your current state of health and plan for the worst.

Conclusion

Remember that what you do today or did not do will determine the outcome of your tomorrow.  Plan well today and plan with the family, it is a team effort.  At the same time, decide whether there is a need to improve current health conditions.  A gradual lifestyle change may be necessary.

If professional help is needed, seek out a licensed Financial Planner, the fee paid to the planner may help you mitigate costly financial mistakes.  So be sure to speak to a few planners before engaging as this could be a lifelong relationship.

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