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Older Persons Day Highlights Financial Issues

30 September 2005

Older Persons Day Highlights Financial Issues

Since 1990, the United Nations has declared October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons.

By designating a “special day” for seniors, the UN was giving recognition to the contributions of older citizens to development and also drawing attention to a demographic phenomenon: the greying of the population.

“You could call it ‘the age of aging’,” says 78-year-old Boyd Klap, one senior at least who has no intention of letting the years slow him down or limit the contribution he makes to society.

The aging population and the ways in which people approach their later years in life has been a subject of great interest to Mr Klap who has worked with the government on superannuation policy and planning and has represented New Zealand at a related OECD conference.

“One of the biggest issues facing people who are living longer is coping financially. Even those who have savings or superannuation on retirement can find that because they live longer than they expected that the money runs out.”

For a growing number of older New Zealanders, the solution to that problem has been putting to use an asset many of them have worked hard to acquire – their home.

As chairman of home equity release company, Sentinel, Mr Klap has been in an excellent position to see the difference made to many people’s lives by taking advantage of the money they have tied up in bricks and mortar.

“The great thing is they can enjoy the fruits of the hard work they put into buying their own home while still living there,” says Mr Klap who is a firm believer in the concept of “ageing in place”.

“It is so much better or older people to remain in the homes until the end of their lives, remaining in a familiar, supportive community, rather than moving into residential care.”

Mr Klap says the New Zealand government is one of many governments and international bodies that support the concept of “ageing in place”.

“Of course, as people age, there will be aspects of their house, not designed with old age and impairment in mind, that mean modifications are needed to make it safe and comfortable for the older occupant. This is another way in which releasing equity in the home can help the older person to live in their own home much longer.”

Like many older people, Mr Klap fiercely guards his independence.

“It is very satisfying for me to be working with an organisation that helps others to keep their independence too.

“That’s a great thing to think about on the International Day of Older Persons.”


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