Money makes the world go round

I make a lot of money, but I don’t want to talk about that. I work very hard and I’m worth every cent.

Naomi Campbell, British model

If you are not so young, would you visit one of the Activity Centres for Senior Citizens set up by the Sarawak government in the state?

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan recently revealed that the government had set up 27 such activity centres because the state had an ageing society.

The centres are capable of accommodating 70,500 residents.

“The provision of a more conducive ecosystem and infrastructure gives senior citizens a place to spend their free time so that they remain active and productive.

“In these centres, senior citizens will have the opportunity to share knowledge, experience, skills and values and make more friends,” he said at the Welfare Micro Entrepreneur Day (HUMK) and OKU Day organised by the Social Welfare Department (JKM) in Kuching.

From this description, a visit to an Activity Centre for Senior Citizens sounds fun for a senior citizen.

Now, who is a senior citizen? One dictionary defines a senior citizen as an elderly person, especially an old-age pensioner. Another defines it as an individual aged 60 years and above.

What comes to mind immediately is a really old person with a wrinkled face and a bent back, walking with the help of a stick.

But thanks to good food and good healthcare, many senior citizens who used to work in the office do not look old and elderly. Still capable of putting in many more years of productive work, they are forced to stop working because of their companies’ work policies; these firms do not employ anyone above a certain age even if they are still productive.

In Sarawak, many people aged 60 and above still work. Some work because they love to work, some work because they need the money due to poor financial planning in their younger days.

So, if you are a senior citizen, would you visit one of these centres?

The answer is probably yes, even if you have a fat bank account or a good pension and do not have to work to feed yourself or your immediate family members.

As they say, money makes the world go round. With money in your bank, you can relax, enjoy life and spend your leisure time at the centre.

Now, I am older and wiser, I think it is good to be a civil servant. One of my good friends pointed this out to me just the other day.

“When you retire, you have your pension to support you until you die. So you don’t have to worry about money for your food and upkeep,” she added.

But if you work for the private sector, you have no pension to look forward to. You contribute to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF). The minimum retirement age in Malaysia is 55 and many contributors make the mistake of withdrawing most of their savings after retirement, spending it on themselves, their children and family members.

Do you know that almost half of EPF members have less than RM10,000 in their accounts?
EPF estimates that the minimum retirement savings needed per worker after retirement are RM240,000 that is based on the calculation of RM1,000 per month for 20 years?

So even if these people work for another 10 years, they will not be able to make the RM250,000 that EPF thinks that they should have saved to retire on.

With inflation and the high cost of living, retirement savings diminish fast and don’t be surprised to find retired senior citizens living in abject poverty, neglected by their children who are too busy with their own lives and families to visit them. Many continue to work because they fail to financially prepare for old age.

These are sad but true stories that many young people can learn from.

Now I am older and much wiser, I can understand why some couples refuse to have any children at all.
Yes, as they point out, there is no guarantee that their children will look after them when they are old and suffer from health problems. For these couples, it is better to save their money and go to a nursing home when they are old.

Now, I am older and wiser, I think good health is also very important to senior citizens. I used to take good health for granted. Now, I realise we must all take care of our own health and exercise regularly long before we become old and earn our title as senior citizens.

If you live with your children who have to go to work daily, who will look after you if you are not healthy and need help?

If your children have to employ caregivers, where does the money come from if you have no fat bank account? If your children are struggling to make a living themselves, you cannot expect them to fork out the expenses.

Of course, if you are rich, you can opt to stay in nursing homes where there are nurses and other residents to talk to. Life will not be so lonely for you.

Long ago, when people lived in extended families, there was always someone to take care of the old folk at home. Now, in many housing estates, many residents keep to themselves and do not even bother to talk to their next-door neighbours. Such is the heartless and materialistic world we are living in.

So, my friends, have you been financially prepared for old age? Remember if you have money, you can enjoy yourself not only at an Activity Centre for Senior Citizens but also travel abroad. Money, after all, makes the world go around.