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Two Kinds of Old Age

July 2, 2013

Two kinds of old age

DO you know that there are two different kinds of old age? Let us consider the short story below.
There was once a father who has retired from the corporate world due to his compulsory retirement age. He is currently staying with his youngest daughter. One morning, as he woke up, he overheard his daughter talking to his son at the living room. The conversation went like this:
Daughter: Brother, what now? When are you going to take Dad with you? He has stayed here too long already. We can hardly make both ends meet. My husband is already complaining of the expenses due to Dad’s overstaying.
Brother: My apologies. We are also having a hard time at the moment.  Maybe Dad can stay a little bit longer. Also, we do not have any room available for him. And besides, we are already too crowded. Honestly, I do not know if my wife will be agreeable to have Dad live with us. Is it possible for our eldest sister to take Dad?
Daughter: Oh, no. Don’t you know that my husband and I are already stressed out because of Dad?
The father felt the world crashing down on him. The truth of the matter was that he has become a liability to his children after being a good provider in the past. His daughter and son were having financial problems already and having him in their home was an additional burden to them. His children belonged to the sandwich generation where they have to feed their own family and, at the same time, take care of him. This is the first type of old age.
Let us see another scenario:
Daughter: Hey, brother, how come Dad has been staying with you for so long? My children are already missing him. When do you intend to let Dad live with us?
Son: Oh, I am so sorry.  You know, my children do not want to let go of Dad because they are happy to have him here. My children enjoy mall hopping with Dad, and Dad enjoys their company as well. Possibly, Dad may be with you next month. If you want, why not pay Dad a visit in our place so you can bond with him? Bring your kids along, too.
Any father who overhears this exchange of conversation would be the happiest one alive. In this case, the father is an asset to the children. Instead of a burden, he is a blessing to them and his children need him more than he needs them. This is the second type of old age.
The short story above depicts a real-life scenario that happens to everyone when their golden age arrives. The first kind of old age shows that the father is an unwanted guest (pinagpapasa-pasahan) in the family while in the second one, he is a welcome guest (pinag-aagawan).  In both cases, there is only one common reason: Money. The lack of money and having lots of money can spell a big difference in the treatment a father receives from his children come his golden years.
It is a fact that all parents sacrificed a lot to give a good future for their children. The only problem, especially with Filipinos, is that parents consider their children as investments, such that when they finish their obligations, it is now payback time for their children. This is a wrong mind-set. It must be noted that the only way the children can pay back their parents is for them to become good parents themselves. This is what is called paying forward. 
Further proof can be found in Proverbs 13:22 which states that “a good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children.” This verse means that as parents provide for their children, they should not forget to build their retirement fund that will support them in their old age. By having a good retirement fund, the children will not be burdened at all, and the parents will always be in demand by their children and grandchildren. If their retirement fund outlives them, the money can be passed on to their descendants. By successfully building their retirement fund, the parents eliminate the first kind of old age. They also eliminate the possibility of retiring broke, suffering from emotional stress and feeling of helplessness.
What kind of old age do you want?
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Edmund Lao is registered financial planner of RFP Philippines. To learn more about financial planning and how to become RFP, attend our Free personal finance talk 7 p.m. on July 11, at PSE Center Ortigas. Reserve your slot now by e-mail to info@rfp.ph or text <RFP><name><e-mail> at 0917-3464126
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