Life is short and every phase of it brings a new set of priorities. As changes in lifestyle and circumstances constantly alter our views of the world - the most pressing issues for senior adults are very, very different from the primary concerns of just a decade ago. Senior members of our society face huge new challenges, which open up new concerns that demand attention.
Pressing financial issues
Finances are often reported as the most stressful of all issues most of us face, but as seniors - vulnerability makes these issues even more critical. When people attend to health and fitness - they live longer. This can cause unexpected problems right near the end of our senior years. Planning ahead for this is simply mandatory.
For most working people, transitioning into retirement requires adjusting to a lower fixed income. This has never been an easy task. Reassessing priorities is essential, along with budget re-evaluations. Most of the time we will find that lifestyle changes are necessary to compensate for lost income. This ends up meaning giving up the family home for smaller quarters and less expensive options such as selling the family home for affordable senior housing.
Health care and prescription drug costs
People are beginning to realize that our health care costs and access to quality care are certainly a most pressing issue for seniors. Even people entering retirement with a substantial nest egg can find their financial security threatened. Unexpected expenses associated with treating unexpected health issues can devastate any family system, let alone one that is already taxed by a need to downscale.
Estimating the costs of future health care needs is practically impossible given that prices of both medical care and health insurance often see increases well over the rate of inflation.
Prescription drug prices continue as a big issue for many seniors even with the advent of the Medicare prescription plans. The sheer complexity of choosing among the prescription plans available have caused a great deal of confusion. Even the most financially-savvy people have a difficult time determining which option is the best financial advantage. Most seniors find themselves paying a lot more for out-of-pocket expenses for medication than anticipated.
Even with the best possible choices within these plans, lower income seniors have a continuing need for a variety of medications. They usually struggle as the costs of the premiums and co-pays add up. Some choose basic food and shelter needs over essential medications. Others can’t afford to participate in these prescription programs at all, as premiums are too steep for their monthly budgets.
Uncertain Social Security
Add to these everyday financial concerns the uncertain future of the Social Security and Medicare programs. This threatens the financial security of most retired seniors. Today’s senior population is growing at unprecedented rates. This is due to the Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement age with longer life expectancies. Legislators are not preparing for or paying attention to any of these very real concerns. They are simply placing more pressure on an already strained system. As many lower income seniors flounder financially even with these programs in place - the loss of them could be financially devastating for a wide range of senior adults. Picture homeless 90-year-olds.
Avoid the traps
Seniors in financial hardship during retirement are not usually in this position due to a lack of planning. Underestimating critical factors like inflation, medical needs and the length of time they may spend in retirement are the cause.
Obtain the help of a good financial expert. Choose one that specializes in retirement planning. It is well worth the time and expense involved because it will help ensure that future needs are assessed accurately.
A financial professional can help guide in unstable economic climates like the one that has prevailed in recent years. Investment experts can help you choose the safest means of building a secure retirement nest egg that will remain solid even in troubled financial markets. Doing just this action may be the best investment you can make for your future.
Plan a rewarding retirement
Seniors today are certainly not satisfied with the prospect of becoming the stereotypical grandma or grandpa. They are not interested in watching the world go by from the porch swing.
Modern seniors have redefined aging by increasing exercise and busying themselves with travel, art, volunteer work and countless other activities. They do this while celebrating their freedom from the daily grind of career and child-rearing duties.
Living a more fulfilling lifestyle requires financial security, which makes it necessary to plan early and wisely. Avoid these common traps that can make the retirement years a struggle. Plan carefully and plan ahead.
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.