I have talked a fair bit about Alzheimer’s disease and you can probably cite from memory that every 67 seconds another new case of Alzheimer’s is diagnosed in the United States. The sum total of all this translates into about one in ten adults over the age of 65 who have been diagnosed with this condition. But we also see a condition that older adults and their families seem to fear almost as much, and it is as rampant, yet not so often acknowledged.
One in ten Americans over age 65 live below the poverty level, a rate that has held for most of the past twenty years. It has been higher, but rarely more than a fraction of a percent lower. In fact during that same period the rates of bankruptcy among 65+ year olds has doubled. Experts cite medical costs as a significant driver of this economic trend. It may be long term care, it may be dental implants or hearing aids or it may be the escalating costs of new medications for a chronic condition. Within the medical costs it often is what the insurance was “supposed to cover,” but just did not. According to a recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, out of pocket health care costs eat up about 41% of social security income. And this is expected to rise to 50% by the year 2030.
I have talked before about the difficult conversations with an older loved one, but this may be at the top of the list, talking about finances. Here are a few tips about what to discuss:
- Ask about their health insurance options to help find what is most cost-effective – as insurance gets more complicated, it can get wildly costly.
- Look to local area agencies on aging who can offer Medicare-related advice as well as trusted insurance advisors.
- There are on-line retirement calculators that can help you run “what if” scenarios with your older loved one in planning for a longer life.
- Help your older loved one to find the existing cash that can help fund an emergency savings fund for the other “what ifs.”
- Suggest opportunities to downsize…the home, the car, the vacation, etc.
The added benefit of this conversation with your older loved one is that it will also give you some advance perspective and knowledge about preparing for your own retirement.
Please also do a keyword search of my blog to find more suggestions on how to help your older loved one get and stay fit. This one is an example of how to help with a better walking gait as a basic approach to better health http://creativecaremanagement.com/geriatric-care-manager/geriatric-solutions/dont-walk-this-way/ . Then, just add the dog!
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.