Many Boomers and Seniors have a difficult decision to make their budget work each month. This is a quiet struggle to manage their monthly social security check, life savings and home values.
I share this conversation often with families as they may not be aware of the daily decisions their older relatives need to make. Being able to ask for help is hard enough. Being able to share that your home, life savings could be lost is gut wrenching. Family members have their own challenges and no one wants to burden them. We want to help and support our families – not the other way around. Leaning on government support is not what it used to be.
It was just a month or two ago that the County sent out estimated property tax assessments. Many are facing double digit increases in their property tax. Renters have also been impacted by seeing their rent increase by hundreds each month. Regardless of whether you have a mortgage or pay rent, housing must be paid, or your home could be placed into foreclosure by the county for unpaid taxes and face eviction. All value you have in your family home can disappear. 80% of homes are owned by those over 65 years old and is seen as their primary source of wealth to cover the cost of long-term care. With the increase in property values, deciding whether to remain in your home or sell is a major decision for Seniors.
Insurance perceived as a required expense for Seniors. With the cost of medical care and assisted living housing, long term care policies were sold to pay for skilled services without burdening family members with covering for care. The policies have been increasing year over year at 90% to 280% in 2021 and 2022. Many companies are promoting a cross life and long-term care policy as an alternative. The challenge becomes getting a whole life policy is something you want to get early in life and accept the modest interest gains. Point remains, many continue to pay to avoid defaulting on their policies and loss of previous payments.
The third aspect to consider is the cost of daily living. Transportation, food, utilities, and other daily services have doubled and tripled. Yet, the average Social Security check in the US is about $1800 a month. Seniors are required to make decisions about what they eat, if they use air conditioning or heat, maintain their home to keep it safe for changing physical and cognitive abilities, and isolating in their homes.
Now I’ve lifted the curtain on conversations Seniors have behind closed doors, there are two solutions which can help Seniors and their families. Here are two steps to consider:
Create a plan. Identify your wishes and get your documents completed; typically legal, financial, end of life, and funeral wishes. Each person needs to identify who can speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself for medical and legal/financial matters, and you need to identify someone to be your executor to close out your estate. Funeral decisions need to be identified, written down and paid for so others do not have to cover your expenses. Often decisions are made for you based on your financial situation and your wellness.
Identify a team. Past generations had an expectation the community cares for our littles, disabled, and elders. Somehow, over the past generation or two, we have lost this community network and see eldercare as a cost to our community. Seniors expect to lean on spouses and immediate family. For a growing segment of our community, Solos Seniors (not married and no children), we need to find a way
to reach out and support from others who are not in their immediate family. Solos need to identify those who will treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.
No one should age alone. Together we can make sure our Seniors and Boomers are able to live their best lives.