A large majority of American retirees say they’d prefer to continue to live in their current home over moving into a traditional senior community, according to a report from the Urban Land Institute titled Housing in America – The Baby Boomers Turn 65. The report says there are now three generations of Americans over the age of 65 and their preferences and outlook on housing options is vastly different than it has been in the past. Though most seniors express a desire to stay where they are, current retirees who do move are increasingly moving to cities and suburbs where they can be close to their children, public transportation, and health care. More here and here.
Among baby boomers approaching retirement, housing ranks among the top monthly expenses. In fact, baby boomers are paying more for home mortgages and healthcare than previous generations have. Healthcare costs have risen 30 percent for people between the ages of 45 and 54 and 21 percent among 55 to 64 year olds. Housing, on the other hand, is typically the top monthly expense. The rising age of first-time homebuyers means more people are entering their pre-retirement years still paying off their mortgage. That means, boomers struggling to save for retirement have to contend with ever increasing costs without similarly increasing incomes. Despite this, retirement-savings contributions have nearly doubled between 1990 and 2010, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey. More here.
Regularly engaging in leisure-time activities such as walking, gardening, housework, and home maintenance can contribute to heart health, according to new research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation. The study, which followed 4,200 participants over a 10 year period, found that moderate-intensity exercise had a positive effect on cardiovascular health, regardless of when participants became physically active. Mark Hamer, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and associate professor of epidemiology and public health at University College in London, said it is especially important for older people to be physically active because it contributes to successful aging. Hamer noted that activity levels increased as participants reached retirement age and even those who moved from inactive to active saw heart health benefits. More here.
The vast majority of Americans want to grow old at home. In fact, 90 percent of respondents to a recent poll from AARP said they wanted to age in place. But not all areas are equally suited for successful aging. A new study from the Milken Institute ranks the top metropolitan areas for aging based on criteria that includes cost of living, crime rates, alcoholism, weather, tax burden, mobility, community engagement, and access to health-care facilities. The study compared, measured, and ranked the performance of 359 metropolitan areas in promoting and enabling successful aging. The results found cities such as Boston, Baton Rouge, Des Moines, New York, and Toledo rank higher than areas in Florida and Arizona known for their popularity with seniors. The number one ranked city for successful aging was Provo, UT. Sioux Falls, SD ranked first among smaller cities. According to the report, America is growing older and the implications of that demographic shift are already having an effect on social-safety nets and health-care systems. More here and here.
Economic security is an important part of any retirement plan. And, for most of us, our home is among our most valuable assets. But, according to a new analysis from the AARP’s Public Policy Institute, approximately 600,000 Americans over the age of 50 are in foreclosure and about 625,000 are at least three months behind on their mortgage. The study, which looked at national loan-level data for the years 2007 to 2011, found that more than 1.5 million older Americans lost their homes during the financial crisis. And, though there’s a perception that seniors enjoy more economic security than other age groups, the study found that nearly one in 30 Americans over the age of 75 were facing foreclosure. The results of the study highlight the need for more creative policy solutions to the foreclosure crisis and more focus on the needs of older Americans. More here and here.
The majority of Alzheimer’s patients are women, as are the majority of people serving as caregivers to Alzheimer’s patients. That is the basis of a new study from the Working Mother Research Institute which seeks to measure the toll of Alzheimer’s on women. The study, titled The Caregiver’s Crisis, found that 82 percent of current caregivers are providing care in their home or the patient’s home. Among them, 39 percent say they feel they have no choice. Also, nearly half of women caregivers say they feel overwhelmed and 65 percent say they have not had a vacation in the past year. Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media, said too many women are fulfilling a role they didn’t anticipate and it’s taking a great toll on their health as well as their families and careers. Almost 40 percent of current caregivers say they’ve passed up promotions because of their caregiving duties. More here and here.
Despite the common assumption that most older adults suffering from dementia live and die in nursing homes, a new study shows that not to be true. The study, led by Christopher M. Callahan, MD, of the Indiana University School of Medicine, looked at the records of more than 1,500 dementia patients and found that, though 74 percent of the time patients went to a nursing home after hospitalization, nearly a quarter were returned to the hospital within a month and many of the rest were returned home to be cared for by family. The study highlights the complicated nature of family caregiving and the stress that occurs when a patient is shuttled back-and-forth between care settings. The results also revealed that most elderly dementia patients are cared for in the community by family and friends. More here.
The Employee Benefit Research Institute’s annual retirement confidence survey finds Americans once again expressing concern about their ability to afford retirement. Among respondents, only 14 percent say they are very confident they’ll have enough money to live comfortably in retirement. Medical expenses and long-term care costs remain among their chief concerns, ranking far below their confidence in their ability to pay basic expenses. And though current retirees express a higher level of confidence than current workers, retirees also say they are significantly more reliant on social security as a major source of income than workers expect to be. Also in the report, the number of workers who said they expect to retire after age 65 has risen to 37 percent, up from 11 percent in 1991. And 60 percent of workers say the total amount of their household’s savings and investments, excluding the value of their primary home, is less than $25,000. More here.
A recent survey conducted by the National Council on Aging found a 15 percent increase in the number of prospective reverse mortgage candidates between the ages of 62 and 64 over the past 13 years. And though the average age of individuals interested in a reverse mortgage is 71.5, the recent recession has increased anxiety about retirement and shaken seniors’ financial confidence, which may contribute to the increasing numbers of interested boomers below the age of 65. Barbara Stucki, Ph.D., vice president of home equity initiatives for NCOA, said that reverse mortgages will likely become part of the entire retirement planning process in the future, alongside more traditional methods of saving and investing. Reverse mortgages allow individuals over the age of 62 to draw on their home equity without monthly mortgage repayments. More here and here.
A poll of 1,800 seniors and their adult children conducted on behalf of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association found that more than 80 percent of respondents said they’d prefer to stay in their own homes throughout their retirement years but nearly 20 percent feared, without additional income, they’d have to give up their house. Peter Bell, president of the NRMLA, said without increased social security benefits, seniors would have to rely on their own personal resources, including home equity, for retirement funding. According to the survey, 74 percent of seniors who used reverse mortgages as part of their retirement strategy described their experience as positive. And due to the current economic climate and concerns about covering monthly expenses, seniors and their children agreed that the wisest financial strategy was to use income and assets to cover living costs rather than save for an inheritance. More here.