Bruce Brammall, The West Australian, 29 January, 2018
I guess a retirement village could be fun. If Rodney Dangerfield, playing his gregarious Caddy Shack character, was my neighbour.
But Dangerfield’s dead. And I doubt, by the time I’m old enough to meet entry requirements, my golf swing could sustain a game consistently under 100. Who am I kidding? It doesn’t now.
By that stage, I reckon I’ll also probably be done with making too many new “friends”. This will put me at odds with Mrs Debtman, whose mission throughout life has always been to make 100 friends a week. She comfortably achieves that most weeks. And will, till death.
Put her in a retirement village and she would know everyone by sundown on moving-in day. By wine-o’clock day two, she would have organised all her new friends to go on inter-retirement-village social tours around town, including coach transportation, to play party queen to further broaden her circle.
As these institutions are largely about “waiting for God”, she’ll have new friends to make, when old ones depart, every few weeks.
I’m not planning on stepping through the gates of a retirement village. It would just feel like a dress rehearsal for walking up to the Pearly Gates to St Peter.
I’m gonna make sure I don’t gotta go. By making sure I have enough money to give me options.
The good news is that anyone my side of 50 – to eliminate confusion, because I’m sadly not far from it, I mean the lower side – can do it.
The younger you are, the easier it will be, but the less likely you are to be contemplating this particular ageing abyss.
For those a bit older … how do you escape?
There are a few ways. Some are purely financial. Others are a little more lateral. Let me give you my top few tips.
First, money talks volumes here. If you would only enter a retirement village kicking and screaming, then having true financial independence is probably your best bet.
Be rolling in cash. Like Uncle Scrooge. If you have the power to have everything brought to you, it will make the job of staying “out of prison” so much easier. To stay out of a retirement village, or its even more evil cousin, a nursing home, get loaded.
If you have enough money, you can stay in your own home and order in the help. Everything has its price. And it might cost a wad, but if you’ve got the money, and a good lawyer, precious few are going to be able to order you out of your castle.
These sorts of decisions can obviously cause problems with the kids. Some of the greedy little parasites would prefer it in their hands than you paying to maintain your independence in your final years. Sod them. This is your money.
Second, keep your solicitor’s details at your fingertips. And make sure the kids know that any mention of “retirement village” or “nursing home” will see immediate removal from your Will.
Third, creating that wealth. All of the usual ways. All of which take time and personal sacrifice. Throughout your life. And this is possibly the only sound advice in this column.
Contribute more to super. Earlier. Be a little smarter, possibly more aggressive, with your investments. Even if you’re 50, you’ve still got 15 years, give or take, until you retire, but possibly another 15 until the choice needs to be made. So, drawing less from your super along the way is also a potential option.
Fourth, be nice to the kids. As they say, it’s these young buggers who might ultimately be called on to make the decision to commit you.
Remind them, regularly, that if they really loved you, they wouldn’t send you to that hell hole, where people scream in pain through the night (or so you’ve heard).
Fifth, play the kids off against each other. Yep, absolutely. You showed them perfectly even love throughout their childhood. And you raised them well. But you can’t trust their motives now. You’re old. You’re allowed to be a little paranoid.
Let them believe that your solicitor has drafted a Will that will drastically reduce the share of the estate for any child who sends you anywhere against your will.
One of the above has to work. Surely. If not, jeez, I hope you find a good village.