The article discusses how to take care of dependent parents who are living alone, emphasizing the importance of planning and offering specific steps to ensure their comfort.
The steps to take include getting health insurance, providing a monthly allowance, opening a bank account, getting a contract line or special call plan, providing entertainment, and urging them to explore a talent.
Emphasis is also placed on the importance of ensuring that parents have access to quality healthcare, financial security, and emotional support, while also encouraging them to engage in activities that promote happiness and well-being.
Ifeanyi’s dad recently decided it was time for him to retire to the village after living with the hustle and bustle of a big metropolis like Lagos. His mum, on the other hand, feels differently and believes she still has a few more years to work before she joins her hubby in the village. The dad, who is older, believes he’s done working having been a businessman for much of his life.
As a retired civil servant and accountant, Ifeanyi’s mum still consults regularly, making enough money to take care of herself if need be.
With my dad relocating to the village, the focus is now mostly placed on making sure he is healthy physically and financially, considering he would be away from his immediate family for the most of the year.
Taking care of dependent parents can be very onerous if proper planning is not in place. Some of them could get sick, become lonely and be financially challenged, a combination that often leaves behind fatal consequences. With this in mind, Ifeanyi decided the following steps will be required to ensure his dad is comfortable while he is away from his immediate family.
Get Health Insurance
Parents are more vulnerable to falling ill when they are older. They are even more susceptible to falling ill when they live alone or far away from their immediate family. Whilst it is almost impossible to stop them from getting ill, we can at least ensure that they get proper health care when the inevitable happens.
But this can be very expensive if it is done on an ad-hoc basis. Thankfully, in Nigeria, we have the National Health Insurance Scheme. With as little as N50,000, Ifeanyi could buy Insurance from a Health Care Provider on behalf of his dad. If the man’s age and condition require that he is quite often at the hospital, then Ifeanyi can increase the premium he pays to N150,000 per annum. With this, he is guaranteed quality healthcare for his dad and also hedged against having to pay for medical expenses at periods in the year when he might not be that financially buoyant.
Put him on a monthly allowance
Elderly parents aren’t known to be very extravagant. So, providing them with a monthly stipend to get by is very crucial to their financial well-being. They need money to buy the necessities of life such as water, pay light bills, food and snacks etc. Elderly Parents often participate in religious activities and take them quite seriously. This also requires that they pay their tithes, offerings, etc., all of which should not cost much. How much should that be? N5k, N10k, N20k, N50k? Well, this depends on your pocket. Just make sure whatever amount you decide to send to them is constant.
Open A Bank Account
Ifeanyi reckoned he’d have to send money to his dad frequently and even though he already has a bank account, making sure he gets the money on time is equally as important. Getting money across banks is now easier since most banks offer internet banking facilities. Once Ifeanyi confirms his bank account is set up and active, he will also make sure he gets alert regularly on his phone so he knows when money has been sent to him. This leads us to the next line of action.
Get him a contract line or special call plan
Most people still view contract lines as an exclusive arrangement when it isn’t. With as little as N5,000 a month, you can place your parents on a contract line, ensuring that they are constantly able to make calls and don’t need to spend money buying recharge cards.
With a cellphone, Ifeanyi’s father can get alerts on his phone, and call his wife, kids or friends when they get lonely, all at a considerably cheap rate. For those who hate contract lines, most telecom operators offer several call plans suitable for family and friends. That too is quite useful.
Ifeanyi’s dad, as most elderly parents do, likes to watch TV, read newspapers and read religious materials. These things are sacrosanct and critical to their well-being. Nothing makes a human feel younger than when they are happy.
Knowing this, Ifeanyi decided to ensure his dad has a TV and if he can afford it, a cable TV too. This would help him to keep abreast of what is happening in the world far beyond. Cable TVs these days cost as little as N9000 per month on subscriptions.
Ifeanyi’s dad likes music too. So, getting him a sound system might not be a bad idea. Games like ludo, scrabble etc. are also on my wish list. All of these shouldn’t cost more than N70,000.
Urge them to explore a talent
Ifeanyi’s dad loves to wash his clothes and iron them himself. He has always done his laundry himself for as long as Ifeanyi has known him.
Most parents have a unique hobby that can be quite useful in old age. If you have a parent that likes to write, then why not encourage him or her to write an autobiography? If your parents like to sing, then have them join the local church choir. Some are also good at taking care of babies too. The financial benefit of encouraging talents and habits is not easily quantifiable but surely it does exist. Some earn extra income by simply doing something they love.
Investments and Other Income
Aside from your monthly stipends, your parents might also have other income sources such as pensions, dividends from stocks, profit from investments etc. Their absence from the city shouldn’t affect their ability to still receive their due.
To ensure they get their investment returns, set up a structure that enables them to monitor their investments and also gets rewards. Most parents are not computer savvy, so it’s either they are trained or simply just left with what they are used to.
In the case of Ifeanyi’s dad, if the village is such that his dad won’t be able to get mail on time, then Ifeanyi would have to route all his mail to my house address. Once he gets them, it’s easy to have them sent to the dad directly. Ifeanyi will also ensure that all of his dad’s returns on investments are paid into an account to which he has full access. That account must be unencumbered and must be active.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in August 2012 and has been updated and republished due to its timeless relevance.