The Cost of Aging: Professionals Express Concern About Older Americans’ Financial Health


Each year the United States of Aging Survey – conducted by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, National Council on Aging (NCOA) and United Healthcare – polls U.S. adults 60 and older for their insights on how older Americans are preparing for their later years, and what communities can do to better support this growing population. This past year, both older adults and professionals who support them were surveyed about the needs of a growing older population. Surprisingly, the survey found that older adults and the professionals disagree on whether the top concern for older Americans is physical or financial health.

Based on the survey, the top three concerns about growing older for adults 60 and older included: maintaining their physical health; memory loss; and maintaining their mental health. For professionals (including staff from the Area Agencies on Aging, credit union managers, primary care physicians, and pharmacists), top concerns were: protection from financial scams; access to affordable housing; and memory loss. According to Rhonda Randall, D.O., chief medical officer, United Healthcare Retiree Solutions, “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.”

When it comes to financial readiness, there is also a large discrepancy in the beliefs of older adults and senior-serving professionals. In fact, only 3% of professionals say they are very confident seniors will be able to afford their health care costs as they age, compared with 43% of older Americans. While only 19% of older adults anticipate needing support managing their finances as they age, 86% of professionals stress this need. Here are some more findings:

  • Older adults and professionals agree that saving money (39% and 43%, respectively) and sticking to a budget (43% and 38%) are among top ways to maintain financial fitness, yet a closer look reveals different perspectives on other actions to be taken.
  • Professionals are more inclined to anticipate future needs, suggesting that older adults work beyond retirement age (43%) and reduce housing costs (36%) to help manage finances.
  • Older adults focus more on short-term ways to manage finances by taking advantage of senior discounts (43%) and limiting leisure expenses (36%) as part of their financial-management strategies.

Money Management Tips for Seniors

Seniors are living longer lives than their parents and grandparents, which means retirement income has to stretch further. Professionals surveyed stress that older Americans must plan ahead, get educated, and access all resources available to them so they can remain economically secure.

Regardless of your financial situation, it pays to know some basic money management tips, as follows:

Create a budget: A budget may be the most basic suggestion for anyone interested in personal finance, but unfortunately, it’s also the most frequently ignored. To live on a fixed retirement income successfully, creating a budget will help you see where your money is going each month and allow you to quickly change course if needed.

Be Aware of Scams: Because of the many exposés on television, many of us are aware of phone scams and Internet scams. There are also other scams out there that take advantage of seniors and rob them of their savings. Please read our blog post for more details on protecting yourself and your loved ones from senior scams. Click here for breaking news on the latest scam from people reporting that they have received phone calls from robo-callers asking “can you hear me? in a pre-recorded voice that sounds like a real person. When victims simply respond to the question by saying “Yes”, the scammers use their recorded response to fraudulently place unauthorized charges on their phone bill or credit card.

Do what you can to stay healthy: Deteriorating health for a senior – especially a senior of advanced age – will typically trigger the need for intervention and the need for making some serious and costly decisions about living arrangements, costs, government support and family support. Do what you can stay healthy. Be sure to get plenty of exercise, manage your stress, eat well, and follow your physician’s advice to reduce excessive office visit co-pays, prescription drug costs, and unplanned and costly trips to an urgent care or emergency care facility.

Manage debt: If possible, eliminate major debt before you head into retirement. Try and avoid taking on any new debt, such as dipping into your home’s equity.

Learn what programs are out there to help: Many seniors miss out simply because they are not aware the programs exist, says the NCOA. Their “You Gave, Now Save” guide is meant to educate seniors about available financial help.

Take time to make decisions about money:  Don’t fall prey to shady offers that are only good for one day. Always sleep on major decisions, create a thoughtful list of pros and cons, discuss the decision with others you trust, and gather plenty of hard data.

Say no to requests from friends and family: Even if you’ve been able to help friends and family by loaning or gifting money in the past, now is a good time to focus solely on your personal financial health. Also, be aware that gifting can have Medicaid eligibility implications.

Need Financial Advice? Come to us for Elder-Focused Financial Services

As you can see, it is important to plan in advance to live comfortably, and manage your money effectively. Because of this, I offer specialized elder-focused financial services in addition to our traditional elder-focused legal services. We offer cutting-edge legal and financial strategies to help protect your assets from the potentially catastrophic expenses of long-term care.

The Time to Plan is Now!

When it comes to financial planning for long-term care, everyone has different needs, situations, and goals. Should you ever want expert guidance with your financial planning process, remember that qualified assistance is available right here at The Farr Law Firm. Our team looks forward to helping you – no matter where you’re at in your legal and financial journey!

If you have not done estate planning or incapacity planning (or had your planning documents reviewed in the past several years), please call us to make an appointment for an initial consultation:

Fairfax Financial Planning: 703-691-1888
Fredericksburg Financial Planning: 540-479-1435
Rockville Financial Planning: 301-519-8041
DC Financial Planning: 202-587-2797

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.