Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Boomers and Seniors Face Credit and Drinking Problems Too

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 We tend to think of credit card debt and binge drinking as “youthful” problems, not issues for large numbers of baby boomers or seniors.  But, two separate studies say that’s not the case: For many, these are problems that carry into our senior years.

 Credit Card Debt 

Consumers 65 plus and older carried $10,235 in average credit card debt in 2008, up 26% from 2005, according to Demos, a public policy group.  They say the increased debt is generally to pay for everyday living costs, not luxuries.  

 The culprit that sent many of the 65 plus into debt was medical expenses.  

 A Few Too Many

Binge drinking (five or more drinks per day) among baby boomers 50-64 was reported by 22% of men and 9% of women.  And this study was done in 2005 and 2006 before the economic downturn.

 Two drinks or more per day (consider heavy or at risk drinking for older persons) were reported by 19% of the men and 13% of the women. Among those 65 and over, 14% of men and 3% of women reported levels of drinking considered “binge drinking.”

 The head of the study, Dan Blazer, professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Duke told USA Today   that older binge drinkers are more at risk than they younger counterparts.

 “They don’t metabolize alcohol as quickly, they may be on medications, or they may have some health problems that alcohol may contribute to.”

 He also noted that people don’t tend to change these behaviors as they get older.

 What can we take away from these two studies?

  •   Rather than kidding about “Aunt Mary” seeming a bit tipsy at the next family gathering,  you should find out if the drinking issue is more serious than it appears. For her safety and others.
  •  Planning for the cost of health care in retirement is really important.  Medicare isn’t free and employee retiree benefits can change at a moments notice.  Making sure you have good coverage is important at any age.  Medicare Advantage plans have higher out of pocket expenses, medicare supplement plan may cost more but generally pay most of the cost of care.  Long-term care (help with daily living activities) is expensive so make have a plan for how you will cover long-term care if you need it.
  • The habits and attitudes we establish in our youth about money and health really does matter for a lifetime. It’s worth helping that young adult get on the right track with both.
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Written by Laura Rossman

August 17, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Posted in aging

Tagged with , ,

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