MANY of us take up a life insurance policy to ‘protect’ our dependents and loved ones from some unpredictable and unfortunate ‘disaster’ in our lives, this is a part of life planning. This reflects a degree of forward thinking.

However, how often do we think about our ‘own futures’ in later years of our lives? We all know people are living longer. Although the majority tend to enjoy an event-free ‘good ageing’, unfortunately that does not happen to everyone. Some become severely infirm and dependent, some ill and dependent, some disabled and dependent, some lose their faculties and become dependent. These won’t be similar for every individual yet some preparations may be useful.

The experts are advising that we ought to enjoy our lives in full and in order to do that a degree of future planning is sensible. Just like making a claim from an insurance company, such ‘needs’ may not arise — all well and good, but life is unpredictable as are its future turns. One, therefore, must consider all the options or at least think about them.

Talking about old age, even today, remains a taboo subject as it was once about ‘sex’. This is no longer acceptable. People are living longer and there are certain inevitabilities. So why not spend a little time on them. Car insurance is required by law. House insurance isn’t unless one has a mortgage. Just think about the peace of mind it provides, at times of natural disasters. We all know what happened a couple of years ago when there was enormous flood damages to properties. Those who had thought and planned earlier did indeed benefit from more assistance.

I am of course not talking about life assurance, I am raising the issue of future life planning.

It is important to think about one’s care and support needs when infirmity sets in. Consider, for example, whether a large six bed-roomed three storied property would still be required in one’s late 70s or 80s. If one partner departs how would the other partner mange? Would the children, if any, be able or willing to offer any support? Some think about moving near their children but sadly it doesn’t always work well. How many do actually discuss such personal matters openly and clearly and draw up a feasible plan of action for the future. Is it a good idea to dish out all the life’s savings much earlier and then, if, remaining alive, encounter hardship and family feuds.

A recent study among a large number of ordinary pensioners undertaken by a charity Independent Age, reveals some interesting facts. About 67 per cent of individuals in their late sixties and nearly 60 per cent in mid seventies have not even thought about their lives in older years. It seems there exists a sense of ‘denial’ that ‘nothing is needed for me — I’ll be all right and will remain 100 per cent fit until I drop down dead one fine day.’

Another three million pensioners have thought about it but haven’t taken the matter any further with some concrete discussions and/or planning with their relatives and close friends.

The conclusion is, everyone should think about their old age and formulate their own wishes clearly, so that the relations are not left in a quandary at the time of any crisis. It may not be possible for everyone to do something on every issue and all the time but there is no harm in seriously thinking about it. All pensioners should consider all the eventualities and make an attempt to plan their own lives/living for later years.

Arup Banerjee