As America ages, the number of Baby Boomers continues to grow. Pew Research reported that the oldest Baby Boomers turned 65 on January 1, 2011, and an estimated 10,000 more will cross that threshold every day until 2030, when all Baby Boomers will have turned 65.
The long anticipated Golden Years may not be quite as rosy as originally projected, so it’s important for family — adult children or grandchildren — to fully understand the retirement reality for many of our future retirees.
May was Older Americans Month, an opportune time to help aging family members address the problems and challenges that affect their daily lives, but that they may be reluctant to share.
So, here are some common scenarios…and what you might do to help:
- I missed registering for Medicare Part B — Mary failed to sign up for Part B when she was first eligible three years ago, so her monthly premiums are now 30% higher…and she’ll pay those higher premiums for the rest of her life! Encourage those in your life who are close to 65 to view this informative Medicare video.
- I can’t pay my student loans — Tony is one of 22 million borrowers over 65 who still owe student loan debt and are likely to default. Share LFE’s “Student Loans: What Happens If I Default?” with family members of any age to help them avoid having their paychecks — or even their Social Security checks — garnished.
- I’m afraid I’m going to run out of money when I retire — Josie lives in Manhattan, NY, one of the most expensive cities in America, where the cost of living is 120% above the national average. After a rare open discussion about finances, her two daughters shared some of the strategies to help Josie find a low-cost location where she can enjoy retirement more. For more information, see Kiplinger’s 10 Worst States for Retirement and Retiree Tax Map.
- I’m so lonely — According to this AgingCare.com article, 18% of seniors live alone, and 43% report feeling lonely, yet 66% are either married or living with a partner. The most basic solution is to develop regular communication using Skype, FaceTime, e-mail, phone, or text. Pets can also help: Not only will a small dog or cat provide much-needed companionship, but WebMD reports pet therapy may also reduce an owner’s healthcare costs. Pets for Seniors, American Humane Association, or the Humane Society are good sources to begin your search or locate a local shelter, many of which have programs like Pasadena’s Seniors for Seniors program.
- I invested with an advisor who lost all my money — Dexter was one of 400 victims who lost a combined $40 million in a recent Ponzi scheme. Unfortunately, he’s not alone: Ponzitracker.com reports that 70 alleged schemes were uncovered last year, with more than $1.5 billion in potential losses. See FTC.gov for tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of securities fraud.
- I’m stressed every day — For seniors, this is often due to lack of money or constant worry about running out of money. Discuss finances with them, and encourage them to talk with a financial advisor. Seniors Helping Seniors can also identify helpful local resources and support.
- We have no money to have fun — Bud and Angie were reluctant to tell their adult children they had no extra money to enjoy retirement. If your parents or grandparents are experiencing this problem, share the following sites with them for discounts on food, entertainment, and even travel: Groupon, LivingSocial, Citysearch, Restaurant.com, Surviving The Stores, Senior Discount Directory, and Frugal Seniors.
- I’m getting calls from bill collectors about an old bill I thought was paid — Kathy experienced this problem and was just about to send a small check when her daughter sent our “Zombie Debt That Just Won’t Die” post to her. Following these steps, she learned the statute of limitations had expired, and that sending a check would have restarted the clock on an old $900 debt her deceased husband had incurred.
- There’s no money left for extras because my son moved back home — Bill’s son returned home three years ago when he lost his job, and still counts on his retired dad for support. MarketWatch reports that 43% of U.S. retirees provide regular financial support to at least one other person.
- I was planning on living with you when I retire — A variation on #9 above, this can be a major shock to adult children who are enjoying the freedom of being empty nesters while planning their own future retirement. Providing unexpected care and financial support has the potential to not only create stress for married couples, but cause disagreements among siblings. Openly discuss options with family members, seek help through Senior Living Advisors, or identify alternatives through resources like the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator.
The key is to encourage parents or grandparents to openly discuss their finances, feelings, and fears, and to use these valuable strategies and resources to find positive solutions.