Seniors & Pros Don’t See Eye to Eye

The one concern they both share when it comes to preparing for retirement is memory loss

With aging comes overt physical changes – the gray hairs, wrinkles, swollen joints and wobbly steps. In addition though, there are also internal changes that may not be as visible, but which impact seniors’ cognitive abilities. Among those abilities are financial management skills., the loss of which could increase their need for help, support and even protection from financial predators.

As these seniors get up there in age, the financial pros who work with them have three top concerns:

  1. Protection from financial scams
  2. Access to affordable housing
  3. Memory loss.

Meanwhile, seniors’ top three concerns are: (1) maintaining their physical health, (2) memory loss and (3) maintaining their mental health.

These are the findings of the United States of Aging Survey that is conducted annually to gain insight on how Americans are preparing for the later years of their life, and how communities can better serve and support them. They polled adults 60 and older and the professionals who serve them – Area Agencies on Aging staff, credit union managers, primary care physicians and pharmacists – to find out the challenges these seniors face as they age.

Although both the pros and seniors report being concerned about memory loss in aging, there seems to be a disconnect between them.

“Both older adults and the professionals who support them offered strong but conflicting opinions on the top challenges older Americans face as they age,” Rhonda Randall, D.O., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions says. “The findings remind us of how valuable these different perspectives are and the importance of addressing many concerns simultaneously to ensure we all fully support the rapidly growing senior population.”

How rapidly is this demographic growing?

Back in 2011 the first of the Baby Boomers turned 65 and for the next 18 years, AARP says boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 10,000 per day.  By 2030, more than 20 percent of U.S. residents are projected to be age 65 or older and by 2050 US Newsreports there will be 83.7 million people age 65 and older almost double the 43.1 million seniors in 2012.

There is no denying that life expectancy rates have increased dramatically over the years so people are living longer into retirement  – men at least 18 years and women 20 according to the stats. This means that there will be “implications for health care services and providers, national and local policymakers, and businesses who offer these services, family structure and the American landscape” as mentioned in the US News article.

Seniors are doing their part by employing financial-management strategies that save them money now, but they are neglecting to think about the future. According to the study 43 percent are taking advantage of senior discounts, sticking to a budget and limiting leisure expenses, but are failing to research the big decisions that could really help them, such as affordable housing and healthcare costs.

Although the pros who work with them think saving money and sticking to a budget are financially healthy, they think seniors need to focus also on staying in the workforce longer and reducing housing costs so as to better manage their finances. Additionally, while 86 percent of professionals stress a need for assistance, only 19 percent of older adults think they may need support managing their finances as they age.

In addition, 42 percent of seniors feel they are “very prepared” to age but only 10 percent of professionals agree. Forty-three percent of older Americans say they are very confident they will be able to afford their health care costs as they age, but only 3 percent of professionals think they really will be able to.

Who’s right and who’s wrong?

Thankfully, seniors are engaging in healthy financial habits like budgeting and using senior discounts. However, although making these habits can lead to big savings, the burning question here is, are the savings big enough to sustain them or do they have to make bigger decisions to make when it comes to maintaining their current lifestyle in retirement with continued housing costs and increasing healthcare needs?

“It is heartening to see seniors budgeting and using senior discounts, but there is so much more that needs to be considered in order to prepare for a successful retirement,” Consolidated Credit’s Education Director April Lewis-Parks says.  “Bigger issues like entering into retirement debt free, paying down debt, paying off the mortgage, healthcare costs in retirement which can be a real money guzzler. It’s also important to keep in mind that repairs and updates to make homes retirement ready can also carry hefty costs that can create financial havoc on an unprepared budget – especially that of a retiree who is living on a limited fixed income in retirement.”

Consolidated Credit offers a wealth of free literature to help you prepare for retirement and pay down debt.  If you need help, dial to speak to a certified credit counselor or request help online now. And if you’re a senior 62 and older having difficulty paying down your home you may qualify for a reverse mortgage and our housing department may be able to help you. Dial to speak to a HUD approved housing counselor free.