Baby Boomers are the 76 million people born between 1946 and 1964. This is the generation that was born after World War II, the deadliest conflict in history. They witnessed a rise in affluence, opportunity and stability. They grew up to become hard working individuals, created families and provided good lives for them. Now the oldest Baby Boomers have already entered retirement while the younger ones who are still working are preparing for it. Retirement is something that requires a great deal of planning: the finances, holidays, traveling, the selling or management of assets, the possibility of moving to a retirement home, etc.
The incredible Booms Day Prepping panelists come together on the program to discuss about this very important issue concerning Baby Boomers.
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Booms Day Prepping, it’s our podcast where we regularly have a look at the issues relating to Baby Boomers and the preparations they need to make for the next stage in their lives. Today, we’re going to have a look at planning for change in retirement. We’re joined as always by our regular panelists Bron Williams, Brian Hinselwood, Amanda Lambros and Glenn Capelli. Our co-host as usual is Drew Dwyer and my name is Wayne Bucklar. To get us started on planning for change in retirement, as we often do, let’s turn to our resident gerontologist, Dr. Drew Dwyer. Drew, what are your thoughts?
Dr. Drew Dwyer: Good morning everybody. For me, this is a good time to have the chat I think for all Boomers. It’s a specific space that we want Boomers to have a focus in particularly us gerontologists, counselors and clinicians who work around ageing people and that is planning. The subject annoys everybody, I’m well aware of that. However, I have a saying that I use all the time it’s in my book and that is ‘prior preparation prevents a piss-poor performance.’ And when we get to the third age and the third stage of your life, the last thing you want to do is to have a poor performance as the curtains start to draw close. So to speak, Brian would get that as a thespian but it’s really important to plan. Plan where you see what you see, plan what you know, take into consideration the things that of your past because that’s what creates your present and then of course, they’re going to influence your future at some point. So having that creation or the ability to plan allows a Boomer to set up, to structure and to function more effectively when they get into that late stage where they need assistance, where they have to look at their finances, when they have to retire, when they have to have serious consideration around the impacts of an ageing lifestyle on them. So I’m interested to know what the panel thinks about the aspect of planning, specifically, do they do it? Have you done it? And what’s your thought around it? Brian?
Glenn Capelli: Good day to everyone, an absolute pleasure to be here.
Brian Hinselwood: Look, if I can just pick up on Drew’s comment there of the curtain closing, I have to say from my perspective, the worst thing that can happen is that the curtain closed and there’s no applause. But I think one of the problems with planning for after you’re not here is most people can’t get their head around the fact that they’re not going to be here. I think most people when they’re feeling well and the accomplishment is little, just think they’re going to last for a lot longer than we are. So I think that the thoughts of planning for something that’s definitely going to happen, that you’re actually going to be part of, it’s really quite foreign to most people. I went to actually a funeral yesterday. The wake was brilliant. The funeral itself was awful because the priest or whatever his title was, kept talking about the afterlife and all this sort of stuff. People were kind of going “get over it.” I don’t know how much planning he did for his future.
Dr. Drew: I’m more interested in the factor of Boomers planning for the longevity of this last stage. So planning the holidays, planning the space, planning the finance, planning the travel, planning the retirement, planning the off selling of assets, that type of planning.
Glenn: I mean retirement is interesting. I guess I always look at how we use language and the importance of how we language something. So I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever use the word “Retirement” but moving, transitioning. I like transitioning because life is an ongoing transition and transitioning into the encore years. So what happens in this final third or quarter of life if we’re lucky to be able to have that? Interesting if I look back in the history, Dad retired and what retired him was his back. Dad was a carpenter on the mines and then a subcontract carpenter and did a lot of his work and the ruse and working the ruse in pretty severe conditions in West Australian heap. A few injuries and some back injuries and finally, he was almost forced into retirement. And he welcomed it, he embraced it probably because of how much pain he was in daily with doing his working. But one of the other things that I think helped Dad with retiring was that there was something else that he did apart from being a carpenter. He was always a musician and he played drums in jazz bands three times a week in pubs and clubs and it was a little way to make a little bit of extra money for the family and always to be able to get a free beer for himself. And when he retired from carpentry and have been working on the ruse, it didn’t mean that they retired from life and he didn’t mean he retired from being a drummer. So he was still playing the drums a couple of nights a week and then a night a week and then every now and again, as he got older, it might be that he’d do the drums on special occasions for special events. Dad was an old bastard. Some people would know what I’m talking about. The Old Bastard Society is a charity raising group that came out and our dad was involved from Western Australia and particularly something that was quite strong in Kalgoorlie in the mines. And being an old bastard, they would have charity events all the different times and Dad would often play the drums on those charity events. So he was still involved in things and I think that’s the key in retirement, let’s call it “Transitioning.” You stay involved in life and you keep yourself open to life which also means that for some of us, we probably define ourselves too much by the work we do. And so throughout life, I think it’s a nifty thing to define yourself in a whole varieties of ways and how you work and what you work at is only one of the percentage of your life. And I guess I’ve learned as I’ve got older to be able to not make it a hundred percent of my life and to make it a percentage of my life where I’ve got a good other percentage of life to be able to dedicate to my ongoing learning and other situations, and circumstances and my relationship with my wife, with Lindy. So yes, I think that’s an important point that we don’t define ourselves by work alone.
Brian: Look, again, it’s one of those things. I can remember being a 20 year old of something and meeting, somebody of my age and then thinking, “God, they are so old.” As you get older of course, those people are not so old anymore. They’re just your mates. So again, I find it hard to get my head around with what people actually plan to that degree. I think if they’ve got a superannuation, if they’ve got their pension, if they’ve got investments, then that’s brilliant. I don’t think the majority of people kind of plan to that degree. Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know.
Bron Williams: I’d like to throw something in here from the perspective of someone who divorced in her early 50s and who literally had to start again, I was discussing this with my mum yesterday. I found myself in my early 50s at exactly the same place I was in my early 20s. So starting again with very few assets because in the end, there were two homes that were split in the property settlement but my eldest son and his family were renting and eventually bought the second one and I made very little money on the sale. So in terms of planning, I’m still working. I still intend to work. So my plan in that sense, is not to retire. And I actually don’t think I’m that unusual. If up to 50% of marriages end in divorce, then there’s going to be 50% of Boomers who at one point or another whether they’re male or female find themselves single in this last third of their life and are still trying to figure out, “How am I going to do this?” Like divorce is a costly proceeding, it may not actually cost you much in terms of the actual divorce. But in terms of and particularly for women in my age group, in the Boomer age group, many of us did not follow a set career path, we were supportive of our husbands because that was what the norm, that was the story that we followed. So my planning is not for holidays because my Superannuation didn’t start until I was 45 and then I was only part-time working. So it’s negligible. So I think for many of us, what we’re planning to do is trying to avoid homelessness, get some sort of income which is extremely difficult when you’re 60 plus. Keep yourself safe and try and live a healthy and happy life with quite significantly different circumstances.
Wayne: Yes. I’m a little on your side there Bron because my life like my career has largely been a series of serendipitous accidents. And I have not planned pretty much for anything beyond what’s going to happen this weekend. And Brian I know in his many earlier years, decided one day to pop off to Germany and hitchhiked and hasn’t turned around since. So the notion that everyone should plan and we should deal with our wealth planning and we should deal with our marriage planning and approaching retirement or this next stage of life, we should have a big plan. I think sounds good in theory but I think for a lot of people or at least for me, it’s a radical diversion, a radical change from the way I’ve managed the rest of my life. And so Drew with due respect, I think this is something that people who are in the counseling business promote but I think they missed the first step which is persuading people that it’s a good thing to do.
Dr. Drew: I generally have a tendency to leave it up to my client to tell me. I don’t know how Amanda deals with it per say. But I like to get the picture first and most Boomers once you get them into the role of talking and we get into the active listening, you build a picture – a storyboard of where they’ve been, what they’re doing, what they’re planning, what they’re not planning and where they actually put a risk factor around anything they’re doing. So in retrospect, you can say that serendipitous actor that you just have spoken about before Wayne is very, very common. And of course, we didn’t have the structures, Boomers didn’t have the structures around them that created the lives that we and modern people are used to now. So of course, they found themselves stepping in and out of tumultuous situations, life change, change and all sorts of things to put themselves in a place where they can be comfortable at some point. And what they don’t realize is by the time you get to the Third Age that comfortability becomes at risk again because all of a sudden, they’ve got to start thinking about income, pensions, Super because that’s how they’re going to survive.
Wayne: I do think one of the drivers for planning in retirement that impacts on me is for much of my life, I’ve done what I call “Post Hoc Justification.” After the event, I’ve been able to come up with a really good explanation as to why I did it and how it was all planned and make it sound very smooth. But part of that has been being reasonably fit, being able to move, being able to get a job, to get the next job, strain a bit harder, lift a bit heavier and I do think that one of the things that kind of is gently wafting into my life now is the idea that I won’t have endless time, endless physical capacity, endless medical capacity to just fix things up by bustling a bit faster.
Dr. Drew: That’s right, that energy reserve disappears Wayne.
Wayne: Yes and I think that’s the best argument I have for planning. But even so now at 63, I’m going “Oh sooner or later.” So I think it’s a difficult argument to persuade people up Drew.
Glenn: My mum was really interesting. As she got older, she embraced every situation that came her way and I think that’s a really nifty attitude to have in life, to constantly be embracing the new and constantly embracing the transitions that we make. And I think the more we do that throughout our life when we’re 40, or when we’re 50, when we’re 60, then it really sets us up in nifty ways for how we transition and accept some of the changes – physical changes, life changes, situational changes in our 70s, in our 80s, in our 90s. At least I’d like to think it would be preparing me and scaffolding me for that particular future.
Dr. Drew: In my book, I’ve got a couple of tables that I put in there forward particularly for transitioning. So when we talk about planning, I always ask the Boomers to listen or to have a think about not necessarily planning down to their finite percentage point but plan a transition so that the transitions that you just spoken about Wayne are not so chaotic or don’t require so much energy, they’re already transitioned or planned in those transitions that you’re going to step into as processes or steps. Sorry Brian?
Brian: I was just thinking Drew and some things that Bron touched on was that from people in our age group, in the Boomers, things like saving for superannuation, stuff like that, didn’t come in I think I’m right in saying, maybe 24, 25 years ago. You always assumed there would be a pension. Now we’ve realized that in fact, there’s not going to be any pension, the government have spent it all on new jet planes or whatever they spend it on. They’re not going to do anything for older people. And I think the topic we’re talking about now possibly affects the younger group. I don’t know what they’re called, the X and Ys or whatever they are – more so than it’s going to affect us. Most of the people that are Boomers now are either just retired or about to retire, they’ve only had that 20 whatever the years to save whereas the people 20 years younger obviously, they’re got another 30, 40 years to save.
Dr. Drew: My advice for early Boomers is to pay off your mortgage as quickly as you can if it’s not already paid off now. Early Boomers would be 65 to 72, a lot of us probably 60 to 72, those early Boomers need to be looking at planning to make sure they are debt free or as debt-free as they can be with no mortgage because they then will comfortably leave in the old age pension space.
Bron: Drew again, and you can only do this because you’re talking from your own space. But there are lots of us like me who have no mortgage because I don’t have a home, I’m not even in the rental space, I house-sit because I can’t get back into the rent. Getting back into the rental space at my age is very difficult.
Dr. Drew: Bron, it’s a huge issue and as I’ve said, we’ve discussed before one of the biggest issues of being ignored, it will be the homelessness of the elderly and particularly the women.
Bron: Yes. And I think what I’d like to see and it’s not that I don’t agree with you Drew about getting debt-free, paying your mortgage off. But there has to be some, well I’d like to have more conversation around how do we empower (I hate that word actually) – how do we help people who are not in that traditional mortgage space where they don’t have their own home? How do we help them feel secure?
Dr. Drew: Bron, I don’t mean to interject. For me Bron, why should we as a society and I’m saying this to be the devil’s advocate here, it’s not my opinion. But the general rhetorical communist, why should we as a society now have to support and pay for those who are older? For example, people who for whatever they did in their life, they now are not in the rental space or they’re not even in any space, they have no house, they have no mortgage, they have no rental, they have no job, they can’t afford a rental and yes, they’ve reached the older age where the rest of the society now has to find them, help them and look after them to get them sorted.
Bron: I’m not actually even talking about that. I’m actually talking about helping the person. I’m not saying, “Give us a handout,” because it’s about having the skills to face this, more space that you can anticipate being in.
Dr. Drew: Beautiful. Great comment Bron.
Wayne: Let me on behalf of my generation offer three answers Drew. Firstly, you promised us you, society or on whose behalf you’re an advocate as the devil – you promised us a pension and then you reneged on that and went to superannuation and then you reneged on that and taxed it. And I believe you’ll renege on it again and I have no faith in you to deliver that promise. Secondly, the water that you enjoy from the snowy mountain scheme and the railways you enjoy and the other things that you enjoy were built on the sweat of your forebearers who worked and paid taxes for it all their lives. And thirdly, we’re grey and we vote.
Dr. Drew: Perfect comments Wayne.
Wayne: There are enough of us change the government because in Australia at present it only takes two men and a dog to vote for the opposition and we’ll have a change of government.
Dr. Drew: Well, it’s a perfect comment Wayne and it’s something that needs to be understood. At the moment on that, we’re having a bit of a debate in the public domain with some people over these issues because as I said, they’re not my train of thought but they are the issues on the table.
Wayne: I agree.
Dr. Drew: And they are the issues that need to be discussed. For me, it’s a matter of integrity and the support to our older people who as you say blood, sweat and tears, sacrifice the most and now they’re going to receive the least. To me, that’s utter bullshit and anyone in the community who wants to stand by that let it happen needs to check themselves. This brings me to the discussion I have in the planning. Only this week in Australia for those listeners overseas and that is we’ve just had a strike of our childcare workers. We’re nationally broadcasting to all families to make arrangements on let’s go the 24th of March. You have to come and make arrangements for your children to be looked after somewhere else because the childcare workforce is going on strike. Now, if you imagine if the aged care workforce, the nursing home workforce did this to the community and said, “Come and look after your own elderly for a day. Wash, bathe, clean, feed, ambulate, mobilise, nurture them, look after them, keep their depressions and their anxieties all in a one space – the community would be absolutely outraged about having to do this. So the dichotomy here is the confusion in the community and this is what we’re talking about. I want Boomers to understand. I’m with you Wayne, they are not going to get looked after as these governments roll out their plans for the ageing population. My point Bron was back to people, to me saying to people, if you are in this space, pay off your mortgage, have little debt and live on the pension while it’s on offer because that’s all you’re gonna have left. If you’re lucky, you’re going to end up in a nursing home with a bag full of clothes and someone wiping your backside.
Brian: Now Drew, I disagree. Of all the wonderful nursing and whatever stuff that work in all people’s homes, hospices, if they all went on strike, most people wouldn’t live among these, they just wouldn’t. The only people who care are the people who are seriously well of, that can afford to have dad, granddad, whoever it is in these homes because they’d be saying something like, “How can these people possibly go on strike?” So I disagree, I don’t think it would be horrendous.
Wayne: And Drew, I do have a question for you about how things work currently. We don’t see old people starving on the streets in Australia. We might see some homelessness but we generally don’t see anyone starving on the streets in Australia. So in my experience which is now very old, if there wasn’t a nursing home available, then people stayed in a bed in hospital because there was nowhere to discharge them to and they became a burden on the health system and you end up with geriatric wards of people who weren’t sick but just needed aged care and there was none. What happens now that the government is essentially pulling out of the provision of aged care homes? Are people just staying in hospital again or what’s going on?
Dr. Drew: Predominantly many elderly people now, I mean everyone enters the system. In Australia, it’s a system that’s guided by the department to more or less funnel people into a system. Everyone goes through the gate what they call a “Gateway.” The Gateway then tells you what you’re entitled to because your means as it tested. So if you’ve got money, you won’t get a subsidy. If you’ve got nothing, society will look after you. Both of those people will end up in the same residential service on opposite sides of the hallway forking out thousands and thousands of dollars a year, hundreds of thousands of dollars, probably six to eight hundred to a million dollars to get into the home. The person on a pension who owns nothing and has nothing, the Brons and no offense Bron, but people will be able to enter a residential aged-care the same way get full service and get full acquittal at the moment in their care because we can’t let the vulnerable suffer. So again, the confusion comes Wayne where our society is being split on a social casting, the haves and have-nots. And I advise many elderly and many older people who come and talk to me about this I say to them, “Pay off your mortgage, they can’t touch it at the moment. It’s your own place of residence.” Make sure that you’re well safe on the pension and you’ve got nothing, you work out with your accountant how to do that. But you’ll be entitled to everything that the government has on offer, society is paying. But if you’re wealthy and you’ve got assets and you’re means-tested, you are paying. The government built a slogan and it’s called “Live Longer, Live Better.” Now I get it and in hindsight, what a lovely slogan, “Active, Positive, Healthy Ageing.” But the actual reality is, “Live Longer, Die Sick and Poor” because the government is going to make sure every cent you have is being taken on the journey of your last stage of your life because the government is not paying, society is not paying and the providers and health providers are not able to pay. And ageing population is sending most Western nations or larger nations broke because the cost and the impact on the “Big 5” – housing, transport, social services, healthcare and education. So all those big fives are impacted on because the older the numbers, the longer they’re living, the more impact they have with disease and chronic need and basically we can’t afford to keep it. So slowly, you will see our government in Australia slicing it up and taking it away bit, by bit, by bit where at the end result will be the user pays because we know how much you’ve got or if you own nothing, well we’ll help you out, you’ll be looked after, you’re going into a nursing home or you’ll live on the money funded of care package in your own home. But funnily enough, your comment Wayne, there are a lot of people who are starving in their own homes because the pensioners are living on the most strictest budgets, they’re not even feeding themselves well, they’re not putting their electricity on and they’re living like they were back in the post-war days which is a disgrace.
Wayne: As you know I’m currently spending some time in the Philippines and here the culture is entirely different. Here it’s very family centric and there is very little professional aged care because the families look after their elderly and it’s just routine for there to be three or four generations living in the one house.
Dr. Drew: I mean I’ve always said it, people need to understand. I know where you are in Philippines, here in Australia, our taxes pay $1,500 a day for a hospital bed and a nursing home struggles to get $200 a day. They need to revert that and give the elderly what they need in a great nursing home or a great aged care facility so we can fund them and look after them and let them finish their lives.
Wayne: Well certainly the system is very different in Australia and I don’t think you’ll be turning the social mores around to end up with an Asian approach to ageing very quickly. So Drew, to go back to our original notion of planning for change, one of the things that strikes me is that this change is going to be a lot like boarding school that we’re talking about reverting to those days that many of us spend in our pre 20s maybe where if we were living alone, we did keep the power off and we did eat in soup and nothing else and noodles. And in our boarding school days, we had to live with a bunch of people we didn’t like and eat what was cooked and complain about the cold toast. That sounds like the future picture that you’re painting for us.
Dr. Drew: Probably more than likely Wayne. There are a few concepts that are being developed. I’m looking at a number of them just out of interest in the research factor. I like butterfly housing or the butterfly model. It would suit someone like Bron, that’s shared housing. So people using a shared housing effect where a large house shared by eight or nine people who have been purposely put together because they will be able to get along. Funded by the government and the taxpayer, funded by the person themselves in a lowered reduced rent. And they all look after themselves, grow their own vegetables, do their own thing, solar power, great water, all the rest of it. And hopefully, they can just continue on living in that little butterfly effect, in that little cocoon, in their local community, totally supported and not having to worry too much. Part of the problem there, they will be putting people together that will be able to survive together.
Brian: I think that system is called Utopia.
Dr. Drew: Well they are being modeled Brian. They are working in certain places but as Wayne says, it’s about the culture of the people. Now there’s some people pushing the new model into Australia from Denmark or over in the Netherlands where the university students move in with the elderly and get free accommodation of the healthcare for them. Now that may be great in the concept where and probably work in Asia where the family centric sub focused model works, the original family centric model works, the respect is there, the culture is driven through the generations. In Australia, I’m afraid you would be opening up the elderly, vulnerable and poor to some risk and to some damage and I wouldn’t trust that model in Australia for as far as I could throw it up the street.
Brian: Why do you think it works Drew? Do you have any idea why it works in some European countries?
Dr. Drew: Because they respect their elderly Brian and their communities wouldn’t tolerate it and it’s entrenched in their cultural norm, it is their Dogma. Their elderly have a say, they sit as the martyrs of the family and their younger respected them, they talk to them, they integrate with them. In Australia, people they don’t integrate with their elderly as much, they don’t talk to them, they don’t respect anybody unfortunately unless they’re getting something out of them. And to be able to say, “Oh yes, just let university students or students live with the elderly and they’ll in return give them care,” You have got to be kidding yourself. And considering that most of our university students in Australia are immigrants.
Wayne: I’m not sure that’s entirely true.
Bron: I’m not actually sure how that’s relevant.
Brian: And also, doesn’t that help the problem?
Dr. Drew: No, that’s relevant to our laws, in our societies and the option. I’m not having a go at immigrants. So jump off my back.
Brian: Because most of them are Asian immigrants, wouldn’t that actually benefit us?
Dr. Drew: Yes, but who will you be going to team them up with? You’re going to have to team them up predominantly in Australia with a white anglo-saxon elderly person who are unfortunately Brian is going to be not used to being around an immigrant, not used to be with someone culturally diverse and different to them. And that in itself will be a communication barrier, a challenge, the norm there is not going to fit very nicely.
Bron: I was just going to say, I think that’s a broad generalization because I think there’s a lot of Boomers who are open to other nationalities who are integrating with other people. I get that we’re brought up, that’s my background. I think that’s a generalization. I understand that there are some issues there but I just think that’s older white Australians won’t get on with young Asian students. And I think it’s a bit of a generalization.
Wayne: And while we’ve had a bit of a wandering into what systems might be possible, I wonder if we should head back to our topic today, “Planning for Change and Retirement.”
Dr. Drew: It’s not something I would be planning for – those models – I wouldn’t be planning for it in my retirement.
Bron: Fair enough, yep.
Dr. Drew: My fear with planning Wayne is that so many things get thrown on the table, so many ideas in front of older people and their families but some of these concepts are going to be an opportunity, distraction and the destruction to a good plan. A good plan should be calculable and people should understand as a family group and I think a lot of Boomers and elderly should be talking to their family about this because that’s part of the plan. Make sure you’ve set it up so the family understands that they’re there to support and play their role in your plan.
Glenn: If I could go back to my mum and dad here again, my folks, Dad had only ever been out of Western Australia once in his life and that was to work on a job in South Australia when he was a young carpenter. And when my uncle got married later in life, Mum and Dad went to their wedding which happened to be in Ireland. Terry, my uncle married Kathleen, an Irish girl or an Irish woman. I mean they were in their forties when they married. Mum and Dad, it was the first time they’d been overseas and done that big travel and big plane flights and it just opened their life up. So late in their late 50s, they discovered international travel and they continued that for some time until there were a couple of incidents on one of their trips in Bali. They were in an uprising and were threatened and also the international travel got harder and as they got older, the travel insurance got more expensive. So they decided then that they would do some national travel. And Noosa, thank goodness for the Noosa, they go from Western Australia, the Noosa every year and spend some time. So sometimes, the travelling, do your international stuff and then when you feel you can’t do that, do your national stuff and when you feel you can’t do that, then do your state stuff. But at all times, I think we should live our life with traveller’s eyes. So I spent seven years being a hobo with a backpack and what it taught me is wherever I am, to live life with traveller’s eyes. So where I live now, I try to view it through traveller’s eyes and the wonder of the bush land that I live in every single day and every single morning and I think that’s a wonderful thing to carry with you.
Bron: Just on a side note take Drew, I have an advanced healthcare directive and I passed it on to my other sons.
Dr. Drew: And what was their opinion of that?
Bron: Only my eldest got back to me and he just wanted a bit of clarification and very happy with it.
Dr. Drew: Good.
Amanda Lambros: Awesome.
Bron: So I’ll just throw another tangent in there.
Dr. Drew: But that’s part of the planning. I mean some of the stuff I do, Amanda will deal with this very comes to that crisis point and then we do, I know I do, I get quite centric on it, I get a bit focused and go, “Why haven’t you people planned this?” And then I have to check myself to understand, “Drew you work in the space where you understand these people do not plan for these things.” So again a strong message to Boomers, please open yourself up to good counseling and good support with your health professionals. Ask the tough questions, get ready for the tough responses and begin to use them in your plan for your future.
Wayne: Amanda has been sitting very quietly. Can we get a word from you Amanda?
Amanda: You can have lots of words from me. What words would you like? Lube?
Wayne: Maybe not.
Amanda: Lube, lube, lube.
Brian: Amanda, anything that will make any sense?
Wayne: It’s gonna be a bad, bad day. Amanda, you’re one of these immigrants who’s in a different country as is Brian and now as am I completely by accident.
Wayne: What are the issues if you’re living away from your family when it comes to planning for retirement? Does it cause issues for you?
Amanda: It causes a lot of issues and I’m from Canada so we don’t necessarily have a pension that we gather unless I worked here in Canada to begin with and I didn’t. I moved over to Australia in order to do that. So when it comes to retirement, if I get to a certain age that I need to move back to Canada to get any kind of medical care, I no longer qualify. So that becomes an issue which means that no matter why, unless I have the money put aside to take care of me, I’m going to have to reside in Australia for my future healthcare and retirement to actually occur in Australia. So that’s a big thing to consider. Like a lot of people go, “Oh, I’m getting old and I want to go back to my home country where there’s family and there’s people who can support me and all that kind of stuff.”
Dr. Drew: And I would imagine Amanda, your parents are also considering their plans considering that their children live overseas away from them.
Amanda: Yes. And that’s another major consideration especially if they’re getting older and they have health problems or medical problems, it’s kind of like well either I’ve just got to have enough money to be able to keep traveling back to Canada and checking in on them and a flexible enough job that I can take time off if they do get sick to come and visit or hang out with them for months on end if I need to be able to take care of them. Or hopefully they have enough money so that they can have people take care of them and then I can just periodically come in and see them. But then the next issue is what if one of the two dies? Does the other one move to Australia and hang out with me or there’s lots of considerations.
Dr. Drew: Which would be very expensive for them.
Amanda: Absolutely. Because of their age, they would have to cover all their own medical expenses.
Dr. Drew: Correct. And we have immigration rules around older people immigrating.
Amanda: Exactly. So basically, we’re kind of stuck in a catch-22. They’re too old so they wouldn’t be able to immigrate to Australia and I’ve been away from Canada too long that I want to be able to go back over there.
Dr. Drew: So Amanda, there would be a lot of people listening to this conversation who are in this space particularly coming from Europe, from England, from Canada and America. Is it the point that it’s more a responsibility of the parent to plan or a responsibility of the adult child to plan better or do you think it should be a collaboration between the two to confront the issues and have the conversation and build a plan that works for the best outcome of the older person?
Amanda: Well I think for me one of the biggest things is that it’s whatever suits your family the best. But I think the major thing that doesn’t happen that should happen is to actually have the conversations about it. And I think that is where a lot of families fall short, is that they’re too afraid to have the conversation or it’s too much of a taboo like “Let’s not talk about it anymore and retiring or you need to go into care or in a medical system because then it might come true.” So I think it’s really important to have a conversation with your parents to be able to say, “Mom, dad, if one of you get sick or dies, what’s the other one going to do? Do you have the money to actually help out?
Dr. Drew: And one of the things I would ask all Boomers to listen to now is to plan for transition again and that transition may have to include going into a nursing home. And people need to understand, they’re not scary places anymore. Unfortunately for Boomers, their reminiscence of a nursing home was visiting their grandparents in one and being horrified and scared when they went into it. Nursing homes today are nothing like that.
Amanda: I’d also say you have to tread carefully with that Drew though because there’s a wide range of care facilities available and some are independent living and some are not and some are for high end people who have plenty of money to help support them through it and there are those that are high-end and there’s others that I wouldn’t want to see my worst enemy.
Dr. Drew: That’s right and it’s all about choice and decision making. But luckily in rich countries like Australia, we provide a choice and those choices are directed around consumers. Other countries don’t get that choice, however, globally across the globe, the protection of the vulnerable and the aged and the way we deal with elderly particularly in their vulnerable stages is pretty much coming to on disparity depending on what the country can afford. But people should not negate themselves away from the discussion around what happens when I reach that phase where hospicing or residential care or full-time care is needed because I have a lot of customers or clients at the moment that are in independent living RVs who have never planned for, they’ve been in retirement village now 25 years. And now that next transition has begun and they have nothing in place, nothing planned, poorly financially built for it because the RVL where they live doesn’t want nothing to do with their care, they simply supply accommodation.
Amanda: And I think that’s the other thing to consider too is that and we’re thinking like, “If that’s my parents, what happens?” And this is gonna happen to some Baby Boomers absolutely that it’s their health that worsens before that of their parents. So then you have to consider are they in the right position and are their parents in any position at all to help them if they’re actually sick?
Dr. Drew: The planning is a combination of many things and you have to line them up and tick boxes and we can never leave out the financial planning, the accommodation planning, the support planning and who actually plays a role and what is the expectation of that role from the elderly person.
Amanda: I also wanted to mention one thing that kind of came up for me. Yesterday I was talking to one of my aunties and my uncle got a dad who’s in independent living but he really shouldn’t be – he should be in a high care facility. But the brother is hesitant to move the dad because when the dad was younger, “That I never want to be in an old-age facility and I always want to be in this suburb.” Like he really made it really clear like this, he’s in Canada, “In this province, in this suburb, this is where I want to be.”
Dr. Drew: And that can happen.
Amanda: Yes. But his entire family lives on like let’s say he’s on the West Coast, the entire family lives on the East Coast.
Dr. Drew: I deal with this nearly every week Amanda and at the end of the day comes to a tough conversation with the family saying, “If you want to meet your father’s goals and you want to meet his wishes and let him die and stay where he is, who is going to pay for it?”
Amanda: Yes. And then I guess what complicates this is that he has I’d say pretty extreme dementia, Alzheimer’s like he’s not really remembering anything. So it’s a drain on the resources and on the family but he doesn’t even remember what he had for dinner the night before let alone if you made the choice as a family to say, “We are going to move you from the facility you’re in to a facility close by where we know we can come in and regularly see you and just make sure that the care is that’s being provided is the care that you need, would he even remember?”
Dr. Drew: Now, great point. And now the International Dementia Lines would slap you down right now because you are negating yourself away of the rights of the person with dementia.
Amanda: But I think this becomes a thing is that, okay so you leave him because his initial wish was to be on the West Coast. So what do you do, you can just leave him there because you cannot afford to go and see him? Is that the kind of I don’t know, would you want to live with that on your conscience of, “I’m just gonna leave him there to rot?”
Dr. Drew: It’s a great discussion and a great debate.
Brian: But the other thing Amanda in this particular case, they even moved him so they can afford to have him closer or they go bankrupt and they are not in the same position in 20 years time or whatever, 50 years time, whatever it might be. It just seems to be a circle at the moment and not able to get out of.
Amanda: I think this is one thing that a lot of us nowadays are gonna face because I’m sure I’m not the only one who lives in a different country to where my parents are.
Dr. Drew: Sure. I mean this is discussion I know Wayne is gonna try and bring us back the planning again in a minute but this is the thing. We’ll come back and have this debate and this conversation again on our podcast. Listeners, make no bones about that but once we start to sit and plan in any planning situation, you then have to sit and work through these issues. So the conversation we’re having now on this panel is actually what happens and occurs in real life. Families plan, they sit to plan, they start the conversation and they get diverted because this planning is complex, it’s difficult, it’s confrontational, it challenges people and their ideas, and their wishes, and their wants and their norms. And of course, those plans more than likely won’t be finished until or we’ll ignore them because it’s too confrontational and then all of a sudden, we’re in a crisis and now we have to do something.
Dr. Drew: And so that’s the planning aspect Wayne, that’s why the planning never gets done.
Wayne: Were this of course a family conference on planning for the elderly, I would be Uncle Bob, the uncle that’s in every family who says, “Well I’m just going to die before I retire and what’s wrong with euthanasia anyway?”
Dr. Drew: Well we don’t do euthanasia in aged care, I’m afraid. There’s no need for it because we palliate. So we will have that discussion, we’ll talk about that on the panel one day.
Wayne: We will and I’ll bring some photos.
Dr. Drew: Yes.
Brian: That should go really well on radio Wayne.
Wayne: I thought so Brian. As you would understand having been an actor for many years, I have a face for radio. So there’s a reason why it’s a podcast. We have drifted from our topic dear listener, we’ve had an interesting chat around planning for retirement but not really about planning for retirement so we might have to come back once again and visit this. I suspect we’ll come back and visit many, many times. Time has gotten away on us again, it’s amazing how fast 40 minutes can slip through the hourglass and join the other 60 years that have slipped thru my personal hourglass. To Drew, and Bron, and Amanda, and Glenn and Brian, thank you for being with us, it’s been a pleasure once again having your views made clear. And to our listeners who are listening to us I hope on devices in the bus, on their laptops at home, on their iPads in the bedroom, please click those “Like” buttons.
Glenn: A final message for me on this transitioning and retirement would be a fascinating word, “Antifragile.” Nassim Nicholas Taleb, one of the great minds on the planet going around wrote a book called “Antifragile” and he speaks five languages fluently and another five or ten not so fluently. And he said he couldn’t find a word in any language that was the opposite of fragile. So he came up with the clunky word “Antifragile.” And some people will say, “What about resilience or what about grit?” Resilience and grit is how you respond to things when they happen to you particularly challenges when they happen to you. But to be fragile, if a package is fragile, it is handled with care. To be the opposite of that, it is “Please mishandle me.” So it’s not just responding to change and challenge, it’s actually deliberately inviting change and challenge into your life, “Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me.” To be antifragile means you’re constantly updating your life with challenges and it’s the best way to see transitioning. So when you’ve had a lifetime of somebody who embraces the antifragility, introduces change into their life, introduces challenge into their life. Then when the changes and challenges happen in our 70s, in our 80s, it’s just “We’re so good at this. We’ve been doing it for decades.”
Dr. Drew: If I can add, if the listeners wanted to get something more particular today and wants us as a panel more focus and as I did point out, you can drift away on these planning discussions. Send us an email, send us a Facebook message and let us know exactly what you want us to answer so we can answer that or give our advice on that query.
Glenn: Fascinating topic, always good to talk and catch you later. Thank you.
Wayne: Yes, we do accept incoming correspondence through all of the channels available to you and we sit down and count your likes every day and gloat over how loved we are. So please keep ticking those boxes, we rely on them and until then we’ll have a chat to you next week. This is Booms Day Prepping, my name is Wayne Bucklar.