Golden Age Gang (GoGang) is a fancy name I want to give to the aging population! Within a couple of hours of my publishing the blog “Age with an open mind IV” two friends Sudhakar and Vijay passed very similar comments, “Age with the Open eyes too!” I had made a passing comment on things for which old population should keep their eyes open too; it can be a subject for a blog itself. Sudhakar in his inimitable style drew a beautiful picture depicting the meaning of what he wanted to say.
So here I am suggesting, let the “GoGang” be! At the same time let them not forget to keep their eyes open! With families becoming nuclear, different units in families live separately, including the retired families. A change is taking place as retiring and settling down has become a collaborative process between nuclear families. Younger families can help retirees settle down but they can do so by remaining in background.
One sees and hears so many different experiences all around that it is better to keep eyes and ears open. What you need in the old age is peace of mind! The peace will help retirees in keeping good health, financial independence and healthy relations with near and dear ones. Other things that will make Golden Age Gang (GoGang) feel independent, is to help them take care of themselves, with as little support as possible. Young people may set up GoGang’s Wifi’s or gadgets for them if they are technically uncomfortable. GoGang may need support in setting up their cell phones! Things are changing so fast these days that even younger generation can feel the challenges of technology.
The importance of being independent is twofold for GoGang. Independence is sometimes the only thing seniors may feel they can control, as certain aspects of their life change with age. Additionally, maintaining independence promotes a sense of achievement that for many seniors generates a great sense of self-worth and well-being. Don’t forget that the same people were younger once and have achieved a lot in their working lives!
Often, seniors are able to live independently with a little or no help at all. However, some need assistance due to physical or mental limitations that may come with aging. In these cases, living at home alone, does not become a lost cause. Home health care companies are mushrooming in India, who help seniors maintain independence for as long as possible. Caregivers help old people in activities of daily living, such as grocery shopping, light cleaning, cooking and other activities that enable seniors to live at home independently. In typical Indian way, this is also being done in unofficial way. It can be a quid pro quo arrangement. I know of someone who lives in a bungalow; he has provided staying quarters to a family, free and they have arrangement whereby both the families help each other by providing services and free quarters!
We must understand that in order to maintain true levels of independence, it is important for seniors to be involved in their own care. When assisting the GoGang, don’t come in and perform all their duties. Instead, follow a technique called interactive caregiving. This means involving seniors in daily activities and duties, dependent on the senior’s capabilities. Let the GoGang be part of the solution and do not treat them as a problem.
Some seniors are able to take part with house cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking and other duties, let them do it. In fact, you should encourage them to do it. Above and beyond performing household tasks together, engage in other activities with seniors, such as playing games, going for walks, eating meals together or simply engaging seniors in lively conversations.
When I talk about keeping eyes open by the “GoGang”, I don’t mean about the sleep. Keeping eyes open is not a problem anymore, getting the shut eye is! What happens is that people tend to become a little softer and more emotional as they age. Deteriorating health adds to the problem. All your future income is going to be dependent on the assets that you have when you retire. This is where “GoGang” should become pragmatic.
I will share stories to elaborate what I mean. A famous lady lawyer from Pune, from my parent’s generation and her lawyer husband had a big property with a bungalow. Due to her blind love ( at a later stage she had become blind too!) for the son, she transferred the property in her son’s name. When her husband died, the prodigal son ensured that she was forced to leave home. She finally moved to her daughter’s place and died a broken lady.
A classmate was similarly impractical. His son, unfortunately, went big way into gambling. Our friend initially helped him to come out of his gambling debts. But such debts are like a bottomless pit. The problem became so serious that a couple of years back the retired friend had to sell of his flat where he lived, his only asset; this closed the son’s gambling debts (at that time) but our friend has now landed into a big trouble, he is a nervous wreck and asset less. When I last checked, he had gone to stay with his daughter, who lives in the US! This cannot be a permanent solution due to visa issues. How will he handle life after coming back to India? His initial help to his son was ok but what was the point in selling off the only asset? In the worst-case scenario, the son could have to the jail or maybe I don’t know! But now the whole family is down with zero chance of coming up! What was achieved? That my friends is blind love.
Friends, right from the days you start your family, keep open discussions about finances in your home where thought process emphasized should be that “money is part of life, it is not THE life”! With this thinking there is a possibility that your children will look at the money as a means and not the end! In spite of such thought process and training, it is possible that children may think differently after they get married. Their wives may have grown up with different thinking! Don’t forget that people change, and this includes your children!
What then is the solution? Make a Will! It should be very pragmatic, practical! All assets, fixed and liquid, all jewelry everything to pass on to the spouse who dies later. Make separate Wills for husband and Wife! Then after both the spouses die, make it very clear how the assets are to be distributed. Liquid asset values keep on changing; these should be distributed among children in a ratio starting from 100 to 0%, whatever way you want to do it. The sequence of how this will happen and why distribution is made in a certain way should be clearly explained in the Will! Hopefully, this will avoid bitterness among children. We all love our children but we need to be practical and pragmatic for obvious reasons.
But will transition be peaceful after following the basics? That is million dollar question which has no answer! Hope that WILL, will find a way!