Economy May Force Older Adults to Take More Risks

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Local senior care experts warn families to be on alert to make sure seniors aren't cutting back too deeply on expenses. Home Instead Senior Care and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging have identified 10 warning signs that could indicate that older adults are cutting everyday expenses to keep up with the economic downturn...

When seniors' families live a distance from their loved ones, or when baby boomer children are busy trying to make ends meet themselves, an older adult can get in trouble very quickly

Do you know an older American who's skipping medication, resisting turning on their heat, or cancelling social outings? If so, these could be signs that the older adult is experiencing difficulties due to today's struggling economy.

Local senior care experts warn families to be on alert to make sure seniors aren't cutting back too deeply on expenses. Home Instead Senior Care and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging have identified 10 warning signs that could indicate that older adults are cutting everyday expenses to keep up with the economic downturn:

1.    Is your senior's home too warm in the summer and too cold in the winter?
2.    Is the lawn not getting mowed or is the sidewalk not getting cleaned in inclement weather?
3.    Is your loved one complaining about not being able to afford medications?
4.    Are home repairs not being made?
5.    Is there a shortage of food in the house?
6.    Is your senior skipping doctor's appointments?
7.    Is your older adult staying home more and becoming isolated?
8.    Is your senior cutting out entertainment?
9.    Does your loved one eat out less?
10.    Did your senior cancel a vacation?

In a report released in May, AARP indicated that 59 percent of seniors 65 and older surveyed said they'd found it more difficult to pay for essential items such as food, gas, and medicine. Nearly half (47 percent) said they found it more difficult to pay for utilities such as heating, cooling, or phone service. Forty-six percent have reduced the number of times they eat out and 45 percent cut back spending on entertainment(1).

"Cuts of essential items such as food and medication should be of immediate concern to seniors' families," said Paul Hogan, Co-Founder and CEO of Home Instead Senior Care.
"Other reductions in spending can lead to less obvious issues. One of the biggest problems that we see is senior isolation."

"When seniors' families live a distance from their loved ones, or when baby boomer children are busy trying to make ends meet themselves, an older adult can get in trouble very quickly," Hogan added. "That's why it's so important that someone look out for the well-being of seniors to ensure they are safe in their homes, eating properly, taking their medications, and maintaining their appointments and social life."

Today's seniors are equally impacted by the current collapsing housing market, falling stock market, and increasing unemployment rate. According to a recent Urban Institute fact sheet, 28 percent of all housing delinquencies and foreclosures reported by the end of 2007 came from adults 50 or older. In addition, many pre-retirees and retirees have been forced to consider working longer or returning to work. However, recent job losses within the retail sector will hit seniors especially hard because retail sales is the largest occupation for workers age 65 and older (2).

Certified Financial Planner Sheryl Garrett, author of the Personal Finance Workbook For Dummies® and several other books on financial planning, said that falling interest rates, fixed incomes, and seniors' fears of past hardships can influence how they react to the current economic slowdown. "Some seniors may be running short on money but, for others, there's always that fear of running out because they lived through the Depression. They know how ugly it can get."

Hogan said that seniors at all income levels may be facing choices they haven't had to make in the past. "They should know where to go for help before they put themselves or their health at risk. Area Agencies on Aging, for instance, offer both food and gas assistance, so seniors should contact their local offices if they can't make ends meet. And companies like Home Instead Senior Care can provide transportation assistance and help around the home, and serve as a second set of eyes for seniors' families."

If you're an older adult experiencing difficulties because of the economy, contact your local Area Agency on Aging or Home Instead Senior Care office. Or, if you would like assistance with a financial issue, contact the Garrett Planning Network by visiting the Garrett Planning Network.

Endnotes

1.    AARP Resource (http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/econ/economy_survey.pdf)
2.    Urban Institute Resources (http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=411765)

About Home Instead Senior Care
With over 800 franchises around the world, Home Instead Senior Care is the international leader for non-medical, in-home care for seniors. For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact Dan Wieberg, Public Relations Manager by phone at 888-484-5759 or by email at dwieberg @ homeinsteadinc.com or visit http://www.homeinstead.com.

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