Q&A: Caring for elderly mother


My elderly mum is still living independently in her own home, but she’ll soon be unable to handle her finances and other business matters on her own. My siblings and I need to begin preparing for what’s to come. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: You’re wise to begin thinking about this while your mother is still able to participate in the process of providing for her own future. First, make sure that she is comfortable sharing personal information with you. If not, you may need to consider using a financial adviser, accountant or attorney as a neutral third party to facilitate the necessary discussions about her finances.

Once you have the go-ahead, help your mum calculate the total value of all her assets (savings, investments, real estate, etc.). Then ask questions about her monthly spending. Can she eliminate any expenses? Are there other sources of money available (e.g., cashing in a life insurance policy, selling items or properties)? What about health coverage? Does your mum have life or medical insurance and any supplemental insurance coverage?

It’s also crucial to determine whether she has the means to continue supporting herself at her current standard of living. For this to be possible, the average retiree today has to provide about 60 per cent of her living expenses while social security pays for the rest. If investments are a major part of her retirement income, and you’re not comfortable addressing that area yourself, get referrals from friends and look for a reputable financial adviser with integrity and a good track record.

Finally, if you have relationship concerns and challenges associated with this situation, please don’t hesitate to our Family Support Services a call at 03-3310 0792 or write to support@family.org.my.

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