The ongoing Covid-19 situation has changed the norms of daily life, including how we plan for ageing well.
Even commercial retirement homes may need to plan for future pandemics which may occur over the next decades. This would require massive capital and extensive expertise to care for aged residents, and include fully fitted standby facilities for segregating quarantined residents.
The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), with its extensive business involvement in pharmaceuticals, dental care, insurance and financial services, malls and property management, logistics and supply chain expertise, supermarkets and transportation, would be well-suited to building and operating large-scale retirement homes or villages.
Furthermore, NTUC Income could introduce special annuity plans which participants could encash into five-, 10- or 15-year stays at such retirement homes or villages.
These retirement homes could be designed for single or couple occupancy, or for four to a room.
Any unused portion of the committed tenure of the retirement home or village could be refunded to a designated beneficiary.
Alternatively, the Central Provident Fund Board could consider allowing funds in the retirement accounts of those reaching the age of 65 to be used to pay for such annuities or a stay in such retirement homes or villages.
The resort-style retirement homes could be built within lush natural surroundings and with facilities for convenient social interactions and physical activities, and basic medical care services.
This way, asset-rich ageing residents could also cash out their properties, resolve their own legacy plans and live out the remaining years of their lives independently and with dignity at these retirement homes.
These ageing residents could lead more active communal lives than seniors living alone or those being cared for by domestic helpers at their current homes who may also be incurring high maintenance costs.
Now is a good time to formulate new models and prepare for a new mindset that ageing well is not just the end stage of financial planning but a new stage of life after our children have embarked on their own paths.
Sum Kam Weng