A recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive found that 75 percent of Americans described their retirement preparations as being based on some sort of a guess compared to 22 percent who said their plan was based on calculations. The numbers offer further evidence that Americans are in need of better education and financial preparation leading up to their retirement. For example, participants estimated their out-of-pocket healthcare costs in retirement would total $47,000, far below the $260,000 calculated by the Center for Retirement Research. Also, the number of respondents who said they aren’t confident they will have saved enough to live comfortably in retirement rose from 42 percent in 2011 to 53 percent this year. The poll was conducted via telephone and interviewed 1,000 middle-class Americans between the ages of 25 and 75. More here.
New data from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College shows the pattern of wealth accumulation has remained virtually the same since 1983. That means, though expenses and life expectancies have gone up, people have approximately the same assets going into retirement that they had in 1983. In addition, the most recent recession has taken a staggering toll on the preparedness of baby boomers heading into retirement. Losses experienced in the real estate and stock markets were compounded by the need to dip into retirement savings to make up for the financial burden. These changes to the wealth-to-income ratio, which is a good predictor of how much income someone can replace once they retire, suggest that Americans have become increasingly less prepared for retirement over the past 30 years. More here and here.
A recent study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society found many agencies that hire caregivers to assist elderly clients don’t run background checks or drug tests on the aides they place in seniors’ homes. Because most of these caregivers are not allowed to administer medicine and are typically tasked with daily activities such as dressing and housekeeping, they don’t require medical training. However, the study found just 56 percent of agencies run federal background checks and just one third drug tested their employees. Also, there was very little training and, in some cases, none at all. The research highlights the need for seniors to use caution when hiring a caregiver and to be sure to ask caregiver agencies about available insurance, their screening process, capabilities, and hiring requirements before making a decision. More here.
A new study, published in the journal Circulation, found a possible link between the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs known as NSAIDs and increased risks for heart attack survivors. Among 100,000 survivors of first heart attacks, nearly half filled a prescription for a NSAID, such as Celebrex, Voltaren, Motrin, Advil, or Aleve. Among those who used the anti-inflammatory drugs, there was a 59 percent higher risk of death from any cause within one year of having the heart attack and a 30 percent higher risk of having another heart attack. After five years, the risk of death increased to 63 percent. Though researchers can’t say the use of NSAIDs were directly responsible for the elevated risk, the study highlights the need for caution when using anti-inflammatory drugs following a heart attack. More here.
Women, more than men, say they expect to live past the age of 90. In fact, nearly twice the number of women said they expected to live a long life compared to men in a recent retirement survey. But despite having expectations of living longer, many women haven’t planned adequately for the financial requirements associated with increased longevity. For example, more than half of surveyed women said they respond to financial emergencies by dealing with them when they occur rather than planning for possible scenarios. But though women participants said they didn’t plan in advance, more than 70 percent admitted to being very or somewhat concerned about providing for their long-term care needs. The study highlights the need for women to be properly prepared for their financial needs in retirement. More here.
A new study from Kansas State University and Michigan State University found that prescription drug warning labels are often ignored or overlooked by older adults. The researchers tracked eye movements to measure where different age groups concentrated their attention when given a bottle of prescription medication. According to the results, half of the participants over the age of 50 failed to notice the warning labels on the vial of medication they were given. By comparison, 90 percent of participants between the ages of 20 and 29 noticed the labels. The study highlights the need to make warning labels more noticeable in order to better capture patients’ attention. There are nearly 15 million medication errors each year in the United States and, because seniors often have more complicated medication instructions to follow, it is important that warning labels are noticeable and effective. More here.
A recent survey from AARP and the Society for Human Resource Management polled 1,004 workers over the age of 50 to gauge their attitudes toward work, employee benefits, and alternative work arrangements. Among the results, the survey found that nearly 80 percent of workers over the age of 50 said they were working for financial reasons such as the need for money or health insurance, as opposed to for enjoyment or the desire to be productive. However, the older the worker, the more likely they were to say they were working for non-financial reasons. For example, nearly two in five workers over the age of 70 cited non-financial reasons for working or looking for work. Also, more than 75 percent of currently employed individuals over the age of 50 said they intend to continue working at their current job until they retire completely and 52 percent of unemployed workers said they’d prefer to find a job in the same field as their previous job. Health insurance was deemed the most important employee benefit followed by pension, retirement plans, and paid time off. More 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.
Research from Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that 50 percent of patients hospitalized for a heart attack or heart failure made a mistake with their medication within a month of being discharged from the hospital. Among 851 participants, 50.8 percent had one or more clinically important medication errors, with 22.9 percent of them judged to be serious and 1.8 percent life threatening. Surprisingly, the numbers were as high among people who received guidance from a pharmacist as those who didn’t. Individuals who had a strong support system were least likely to make a mistake with their medication, primarily due to the fact that they were more likely to have a caregiver helping them with their recovery. The study highlights the need for more effective ways to help patients familiarize themselves with their drug names, interactions, and doses. More here and here.
According to Census projections, the number of Americans over the age of 85 is set to rise to 19 million by 2050. By comparison, there were only 3 million Americans older than 85 in 1990. A large part of that increase are the approximately 78 million baby boomers now approaching their retirement years. But with increasing life expectancies and dwindling government resources, today’s seniors face the risk of an uncertain financial future. A recent Gallup poll shows that a rising number of Americans say they expect to rely heavily on social security as a source of retirement income. But as people live longer, the likelihood that they’ll require costly medical care or assistance increases. The struggle to pay for the healthcare needs of an aging American population highlights the need for a proper retirement plan that goes beyond social security and accounts for increasing life spans. More here and here.