A survey of 2,307 adults conducted by Harris Interactive found that nearly three-fourths of Americans are concerned that they won’t have enough money to retire and an equal amount expressed concerns about paying for healthcare expenses if, and when, they do retire. Additionally, the poll found 47 percent of Americans say they are living paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to put money in savings. Those that are saving say they are putting money away for unexpected costs and their eventual retirement. David Krane, senior vice president at Harris Interactive, said there is clear anxiety on the part of the American public regarding their day-to-day finances. More 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.
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 new report based on the Elder Economic Security Standard Index has calculated the economic needs of seniors in every county in the country. The report, from Wider Opportunities for Women, measured the median income of older adults against the amount seniors would need to be able to afford basic living expenses. The results found that Massachusetts is the state most economically insecure for seniors, followed by New York, D.C., Connecticut, and Hawaii. The Northeast and Southeast populated most of the top 20 states where seniors have difficulty affording basic needs. Donna Addkison, president and CEO of WOW, said growing old in America is getting more and more expensive and working hard is no guarantee that you’ll be able to afford basic expenses when you retire. More here and here.
There are an estimated 5.4 million Americans suffering with Alzheimer’s disease and, by 2050, that number is expected to triple, costing $1 trillion in medical and nursing-home expenses. Because of the staggering numbers associated with the disease, the federal government has announced the first National Alzheimer’s Plan, which sets 2025 as a target for developing more effective treatments, addressing the medical and social problems of dementia, and developing ways to prevent the illness. Harry Johns, president of the Alzheimer’s Association and one of the advisers working on the plan, said what is important is developing a comprehensive plan that deals with the needs of people who already have the disease. The plan, which is still being written, is the first to deal with the issue of Alzheimer’s and the rapidly aging American population. More here.
According to a survey from CESI Debt Solutions, a majority of retirees retired with debts and most didn’t delay retirement in order to pay them off. The survey found 56 percent of respondents had debt when they retired and 59 percent said they’d saved less than $50,000 toward their retirement. Neil Ellington, executive vice president of CESI, said we’ve become more comfortable with indebtedness than previous generations. Among the types of debt, 35 percent had credit-card debts while 30 percent cited mortgage debt. Auto and student loans made up an additional 23 percent. More than two-thirds of participants said they used money borrowed after retirement for medical and funeral expenses, while fewer listed leisure activity, clothing, vacation and travel. More here.
A survey of baby boomers approaching retirement age found a majority said they don’t understand Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for seniors. Even those past retirement age expressed confusion about the plans and how they work. The survey, conducted by the National Council on Aging, found less than half of seniors said they understood Medicare and even fewer could identify the individual components of the program. Only a third knew that Medicare Part A was for hospital insurance and just 23 percent of respondents correctly identified Medicare Part B as the component that covers doctor visits. Unfortunately, seniors’ confusion about how Medicare works means many will lose money because they didn’t shop for a better plan. Howard Bedlin, vice president of public policy and advocacy at NCOA, said he was hopeful that baby boomers would be more comfortable using the Internet to better educate themselves about the programs and policies. More 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.
According to a new report commissioned by AARP Foundation, nearly 9 million Americans over the age of 50 are at risk of hunger – a 79 percent increase since 2001. Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP Foundation president, said the recession has taken an especially large toll on older people, particularly in the middle class. The study was the first to also examine hunger rates for people between the ages of 50 and 59, who are too young to qualify for Social Security and Medicare. Among this group, the risk of hunger rose 38 percent between 2007 and 2009. The 10 states with the highest rate of food insecurity among people over the age of 60 were Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. More here.