Sad, but true. In this day and age that we live.
At their 50th anniversary my friends made a decision to distribute their combined assets among their living heirs. Their rationale, “Para walang gulo” (To avoid trouble). They added one proviso: “While still alive, income from these properties will be used to maintain our present lifestyle inclusive of medical expenses, extravagant trips and unlimited shopping.”
“That’s easy” replied the heirs. The income was substantial to indulge the old folks with a bonus that the heirs can use in any manner they wanted.
The first year passed without a hitch, but soon the problem surfaced. Each child used all kinds of tactics to keep the money from his parents. It reached a point where the poor retirees had to beg for sustenance, robbing them of the dignity they worked hard to uphold.
What went wrong?
“Bad decision”, said a cautious friend who warned the couple of this scenario. “Children are so unreliable when it comes to inherited money.”
Money received, which was not expected and not a direct result of something they worked for, is not given the same value as money earned with their own sweat and tears. They lose their sense of propriety; gratitude is tainted by greed and decency gone. This is compounded by in-laws who can tilt or convince their respective spouses to throw out good sense and filial affection like soiled rugs. “Honey, they’re going to die anyway, so why waste good money on them?”
To avoid falling into this vulnerable, pitiful state, keep these 10 tips in mind:
- Do not retire. If you’re over-aged, retire and get all
the benefits but find another income-generating job or open a business that
will keep you active physically and mentally. Travel and bond with true
friends, play a sport, learn a new hobby and volunteer in your community or
parish. Don’t loaf around. Your spouse will hate you because you’ve become a
sloppy, listless bum with nothing good to say about the household and things that
you never bothered about before. Solve Crossword puzzles, play Scrabble, write
your memoirs, and above all, Read- this will keep you alert and keep Alzheimer’s at bay.
- Live in your own place to enjoy
independence, privacy and a solo life.
If you move in with your children, your rank or degree of importance is reduced
to that of a bed spacer who has no place of honor, or worse, like crumbling
furniture merely displayed with no added value. Might you kowtow to conform to
their own rules that are not kind, considerate or mindful of you? If you
witness your children engaged in a war of will and wits with your
grandchildren, whom will you side with? Will they even appreciate your
arbitration? Remind your children that silence is not a sign of weakness; you
are merely processing data that is taking longer to complete.
- Hold on to your nest egg, bank deposits
and assets. Never gift your immovable property to your legal heirs during your life time. Similarly never give relinquishment deed of your property in favor of your legal heirs. Write and register your Will in favor of your spouse.If you want
to help your children, do give, but not the extent that you wipe out your
life’s earnings, singing heroically “not a shirt on my back, nor a penny in my
name.” Staying solvent and in the black is a good hedge against all kinds of
tempests. You will sleep better, you will not be afraid to express your opinion
and you will be confident about yourself.
- Don’t believe your children’s promise to
care for you when you grow old.
Priorities change. Many children are not guilt-ridden or filled with a sense of
moral obligation when the wife and offspring take top billing in their lives.
There are still children who would consider it a privilege to show compassion, genuine love, and deep
concerns for their parents but be warned that not all children think alike.
- Expand your circle of friends to include
young ones who will definitely outlive your old BFFs. Keep up with the new inventions, trends,
music and lifestyle including all scams and schemes you should guard against.
Remember that when you mix with the young, you also open a fresh avenue to
channel your thoughts, experiences and values through so that the lessons you
learned are not lost, forgotten or buried with you.
- Be well groomed and smelling fresh of
spring water all the time.
There is nothing more depressing than seeing people exhale when you walk by
because you reek of baul (camphor chest) or lupa (dirt). Old age or bust, don’t
look and smell like a corpse when you’re not one yet.
- Do not meddle in the lives of your
children. If they ask
for your counsel, give it, but be ready to accept that they may not take it.
Their situations in life cannot be compared to the situations that you
experienced in your life. The playing field has changed and they need to
develop their own set of survival skills. If you raised them to be street
smart, they can handle themselves in tough situations and be able to read
people. Champion and encourage their dreams and desires but on their own terms.
- Do not use old age as your shield and
justification for turning grumpy.
There’s nothing more annoying than an arrogant old fool. Welcome each day as
another chance to be kind and forgiving, to yourself and to others.
- Listen to what others may say. Do not throw your weight around just
because you are a septuagenarian or a nonagenarian. You are not a depositary of
knowledge. Even if the roles have been reversed, making growing old a
fun-filled, pleasant experience for you and your brood.
- Pray always and focus on your eternal life. You will definitely leave everything behind, a final journey detached from burden and care. Be more accepting that, sooner or later, you will croak. Prepare your swan song with humble and contrite heart. If you believe in a merciful and loving God, there is no need to strut like a star. Nobody is.
Mr. Narendra Ahuja (Senior Citizen)
Vasant Kunj, New Delhi