Preparing wisely for the old age

Ageing is something that can be prepared for in many different ways. You can take care of your health, foster social relationships, design safer living arrangements in your home, and take care of finances and legal matters, such as guardianship and advance healthcare directive, for example. Finance Finland (FFI) is involved in cooperative projects and networks with the aim of strengthening Finns’ financial preparedness for their retirement days.

The Finnish association for the Welfare of Older People (VTLK) is running a pilot project on a group model on old-age preparedness in Kuopio. The course lasts from November until December. This week’s presentations guided group members to discuss preparedness from financial perspectives such as spending, borrowing and saving.

”Planning your financial future is part of everyday life for old and young people alike. Life is a continual series of choices, and the income and expenses need to be balanced”, said FFI’s Head of Development Kristiina Siikala in her presentation to the group.

Siikala emphasised that our personal finances are an important resource that we should follow closely. When situations change, we must keep the financial side up to date. Being prepared for old age gives a sense of security and improves the opportunities to live a comfortable life after retirement.

FFI has teamed up with the Martha Organization and the Guarantee Foundation to create a financial checklist. The checklist can help keep track of the different aspects of financial preparedness: which ones are already accounted for, and which ones need more work. Siikala pointed out that financial preparedness can help in tackling multiple issues at once, and the checklist is a good way to get started.

“But even if you’re prepared, life has a way of surprising us sometimes, and finances can easily spiral out of control”, noted Minna Markkanen, head of development at the Guarantee Foundation.

Numerous scenarios can lead to problems with debt. For example, illness, unemployment, death of one’s spouse, sudden or expensive need for house renovation, and payday loans can quickly wreak havoc on personal finances. As many as 10% of Finns already have payment defaults, and the number is rising at a record-breaking rate. According to Markkanen, the highest growth in payment defaults is among older people, while younger people are fortunately now turning the situation around. Markkanen emphasised that with support available, debt problems should not be faced alone.

This week is also the European Week of Active and Healthy Ageing, which looks into the most pressing issues of the rapid population ageing in Europe. The society needs to adapt, and preparedness is key.

See also: network’s website (in Finnish)