Buried under debt

Consumers continue to be hampered fiscally by the recent economic downturn, but perhaps no age demographic has been affected more than America’s elderly population, which has seen a sharp spike in bankruptcies and debt.

More senior consumers are racking up credit card debt whether it is related to vacations or medical expenses, and a new report says many have no intention of every paying it off.

According to a recent CESI study, nearly 40 percent of retired Americans now carry credit debt they believe will go unpaid in their lifetime. The report cites the ‘Greatest Generations’ dislike of talking about monetary problems as one of the biggest reasons contributing to the statistic.

“Most people are too scared to talk about their financial problems, especially in their ‘Golden Years,'” Neil Ellington, executive vice president of CESI, told CNBC. “Retirement is supposed to be all about enjoying the time you’ve been saving up for, and the reality is that many people couldn’t save enough.”

More than half of survey respondents reported to saving less than $50,000, the news source says. Seventy-five percent of seniors polled said medical and funeral expenses were the primary reason.

Bankruptcies among those 65 or older increased 178 percent from 1991 to 2007.