Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I came across the above in the New Straits Times a while back. It got me thinking. If it costs RM317,000 to raise a child from the day he was born to the day he celebrates his 17th birthday, how much would it cost to care for an elderly parent, say, from the age of 70 to 87?

I doubt any study has been done on this here. From what I've heard, most financial planners don't even advise their clients to allocate a certain sum to cover the cost of looking after their elderly parents, or paying for their healthcare and medical expenses. Bear in mind the aged have no health or medical insurance.

The bookend generations - the very young and the very old - have much in common. Both are dependent on others to help them, so their needs are quite similar. Except for a few items, the above list of costs incurred in raising a child applies to caring for an aged parent too. At least we now have an idea of how much it will cost us to look after our parents.

The cost can easily double or triple if our parents require special nursing care. What happens when adult children can no longer afford to care for their parents?

According to a recent report in The Star, up to June this year, 157 patients above 60 were abandoned by their families at hospital. A total of 205 senior citizens were abandoned last year. 95% of those abandoned came from poor families. Statistics from the Fourth Malaysian Population and Family Survey conducted in 2004 by the National Population and Family Development Board show that about 675,000 elderly parents did not receive financial support from their children.

Isn't this shocking? But that's the reality of life. The family institution of past generations has disintegrated, no thanks to changing family dynamics and to an erosion of family values. While there are kind people who would adopt abandoned babies, who would want to 'adopt' abandoned old people? Babies are so much cuter and have their whole lives ahead of them. Old people are all wrinkled and nearing the end of their lives.

The Tong Sim Senior Citizens Home has been receiving generous donations of provisions since The Star (8 Oct) featured it in their cover story. What the home needs now is not food supplies but household items like washing detergent, garbage bags, adult diapers and toilet rolls.

I visited the Tong Sim Senior Citizens Home yesterday. I was there to deliver provisions purchased with proceeds from past seminars organized by Seniorsaloud. It is heart-breaking to see so many elderly folks who are there because they have nowhere else to go. It is through the kindness of Mr Cheong Loy that they have a roof over their head, albeit on the upper floor of Mr Cheong's funeral parlour.

As parents we don't want to be a burden to our adult children. The latter have their own young family to take care of. Unless we are blessed with good fortune, we need to continue working as long as we can, save as much as we can, and look after our health. That's our responsibility.

Remember, we may still be active and independent now, but a day will come when we too will be our parents' age. When we reach our 70s and can no longer work to support ourselves, who will look after us? Aside from financial support, we need assistance with ADL (activities of daily living). We can't take filial piety for granted, especially if we haven't laid the foundation for bonding with our children when they were growing up.

Time to take stock of our future, so as to be better prepared for a smooth and pleasant journey into the sunset years.


BEN said...

And, woe betide the old folks when they have got to dig into their savings or sell the only home they have to feed the lifestyle of extravagant children - parties, drugs, gambling and what not.

Children these days are very manipulative.

News about alongs harrassing the old folks over debts incurred by their chidren are abound.

Don't mean to generalise all children. Even if it is just a few cases it is a few too many

Anonymous said...

it is really sad when we think about parents abandoned and I am wondering, what is the parents feeling bout this, they have raised us, give love and supports... and at the ends.. they have been abandoned by their own children... so sad....

kc said...


"My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”... Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same st
ory night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way... remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day... the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.

When those days come, don’t feel sad... just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love.

I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you... my darling daughter."

- Unknown

seniorsaloud said...

KC, you have probably seen the video of this transcript too. There's also a similar one from a father to a son.
Thanks for sharing.

Janine said...

Those numbers are pretty nonsensical. At RM63K for 17 years, that's RM57 per day, which I don't normally do daily in 2014 as an adult. Kindy and babysitting was extravagant as well. I'd put my estimate of the real cost as a third of those numbers. If you're estimating how much it costs to care for your parents, it's closer to those numbers.

Unknown said...

Just remember we will all be there at some point in our life's.