If you’re a working professional in your thirties, expect to see your relationship with your parents flipped into reverse, sooner or later. Mom used to take care of you when you were sick; now you’re the one making tinola while she’s in bed with the flu. Dad once handled the hospital bills for your operation–now he’s in the O.R. and the receipt for the procedure has your name on it.
The financial part of the role reversal often throws plenty of Pinoys for a loop. Sure, you’ve got your own health needs covered—now you’ve got to cover mom’s and dad’s too? They’ve taken care of you for so long—how do you handle taking care of them for a change?
The few who are prepared to handle the situation didn’t get there overnight. “The people who prepare think many years down the road,” explains Maricris San Diego, vice-president and personal banking head of the Bank of the Philippine Islands. “Their decisions in life—the lifestyle they will lead, when they’re going to retire, and the kinds of investments they will make—are determined by their responsibilities.”
So preparing for the inevitable begins with expanding your field of vision. Because your financial responsibilities don’t stop at your own spouse and kids, you’ll have to work your parents’ needs into your portfolio as well. San Diego believes you’re in a good position if the following are put in place:
Regular savings that cover your parents’ needs. San Diego thinks that young professionals in their 20s are in an excellent position to begin building an emergency fund. “There’s a longer period over which they can build the pot,” she says. “And there are facilities through which you can regularly save: scheduled transfers into your savings account, or regular subscription plans into an investment account.” San Diego suggests that the savings be put in a liquid account that can be easily tapped when something comes up—“a high-yielding deposit account, an SDA (special deposit account), or a short-term investment,” she says.
One of San Diego’s friends sets aside savings for her own widowed dad. “She has to have an emergency fund enough for the dad to fund his medical bills, enough for one major operation,” she recalls, adding that the figure isn’t set in stone: “It really depends on the health of the parent.”
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Updated insurance, SSS/GSIS and PhilHealth paperwork. “Make sure, even at an early stage, that your parents’ SSS and PhilHealth status are in order,” says San Diego: ensure that their contributions have been recorded properly and their benefits have not been frozen. PhilHealth may not be able to cover most of your parents’ health-related expenses, but every little bit helps. “PhilHealth benefits will help a lot in the hospitalization, especially,” says San Diego.
Don’t count health insurance out at this late stage. “There are medical insurance companies that actually offer medical insurance coverage for people who are up to 60 years old,” says San Diego.
A habit of seeking preventive care. By getting your parents’ accurate medical profiles, you can get any future health issues on the radar before they crop up, and address them now before they become major money-sapping emergencies. “You should consult the family doctor—what are the regular checks that should be done at particular ages?” recommends San Diego. “CBC, mammogram, whatever.”
With all these in place, you can complete the circle without unnecessary difficulty, accomplishing a role our society means us to play sooner or later. “In our culture, we take care of each other,” San Diego says. “Our parents took care of us, we have to take care of them back.”
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