Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Archive for the ‘aging’ Category

What Does 70 Look Like?

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Facts on Turning 70

There’s a great article in the NY Times on what it means to be in your 70s.  What should you look like?  What should you do?  What are society’s expectations?  After all average life expectancy is 78 years old. 

 Ringo turned 70.  Other celebrities in the 70+ club are Chuck Norris, Al Pacino, Alex Trebeck and Raquel Welch.  

Funny, it wasn’t that long ago when turning 50 was the watershed birthday.  Seems so young now! 

The 70s are interesting because it has traditionally been seen as a time of slowing down.  Yet more people are working into their 70s. Or staying active travelling, volunteering and socializing. 

At the same time, we can all think of someone in their 70s who suffers whose life is a bit different because of health or financial limitations. 

 It’s Interesting food for thought whether you’re planning your own later years or helping family or friends with theirs.  

 My take away:  Money matters—but health matters more. 

 Second take-away: Expectations of what’s right at 70 should be your own.  Good financial planning gives you options.

 Third take away:  Last quote in the article about being 90! 


Written by Laura Rossman

July 13, 2010 at 2:40 pm

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.

Written by Laura Rossman

August 17, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Posted in aging

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Is now the time to stop driving? Resources for older drivers and their families

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Sorry Detroit.  It’s been a long time since we bought a new car.  We’ve been buying “Mom” cars for years. Used, low mileage cars purchased because someone’s Mom, Grandma, aunt couldn’t drive it anymore. 

 There’s always a story behind the car; and, unfortunately, it’s often about loss.  The automobile is so tied to our independence –our ability to go where we want to go, when we want to go. Most of us don’t live in neighborhoods where it’s easy to walk or take public transportation to get what you need.  So, losing the car means relying on someone else. And for the sandwich generaion, it’s adding another level of responsibility and duties.

 It’s tough to stop driving.  And for family members it’s difficult to step in because the topic is so emotional. And you’re just not sure when and how to approach the topic.  A new website from AAA can help (  

 The website is focused on the senior driver and provides great tips and resources for on assessing the skills of an older driver and how to create a plan of action when the time comes to stop driving.  Here are three planning tips:

  •  Think about and discuss the gradual adjustments that may need to be made as you or the senior in your life gets older. Sometimes, just a few simple adjustments, such as limiting driving to certain times of day, avoiding night driving or adding an extra-wide mirror, can help prolong a senior’s driving.
  • Identify alternative modes of transportation well before skills diminish.
  • In choosing a retirement home, look at access to public transportation, the ability to walk to services, and whether transportation is provided by the facility

AAA also provides a self-assessment tool for the senior driver that can help raise awareness about the current level of their driving skills.

Like the conversaions about money, talking about whether it’s time to hang up the car keys is an emotional discussion.  Take advantage of these resources to help you and your older drvier make the right decision at the right time.

Written by Laura Rossman

June 23, 2009 at 9:55 am

Language of Aging is, well, Old and Dated

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The words that describe our life after fifty just don’t work anymore.  Some of them haven’t for a while. 

 We’ve been searching for years for a word to replace “seniors.”  Research tells us boomers hate that word.  We haven’t really come up with a better one.

 Retirement – boy has this one changed in just the past year.  For many of us the prospect of stopping work is fading.  The reality is that we’ll keep working, maybe part-time, maybe a whole new career, maybe an encore career.  But we still talk about retirement planning because – well – what else do you call this new stage of life?

 Caregiver is another word that most of admit they don’t identify with, yet they are providing support – physical, emotional and/or financial – to another.  I helped by parents with a variety of things for over 11 years after my father’s stroke, but never thought of myself as a caregiver.

 Sandwich generation is a common phrase, and one that this blog covers, to cover those caught in the middle of aging parents and adult children.  But it’s really so much more complex and messy than that.  Sandwich implies a nice orderly, stacked sense of responsibility and just one up and one down.  But we know the pressures to assist come from all angles – parents, adult children, aunts and uncles, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, ex-spouses, ex-in-laws and I’m sure you ca add a few.  Ken Dhytwald recently released research– The Retirement Tipping Point — with Harris International that likened family responsibilities to a Rubik’s cube.  I like the image, but it suggests there is a solution – if you’re in the middle, you know solving one issue just leaves you to tackle others. What’s the right image? I think it’s more like Gumby being pulled and stretched in lots of different directions. But that’s not quite right either. 

Aging in Place – I love the concept and absolutely hate the term.  it sounds so sedentary.  And does anybody really think about staying in their home in those terms.  

 Why does it matter? As we search for information to help ourselves make it through these new lifestages, we search the web.  We “Google” it.  We use key words.  The terms we use are important because they get us to the information that can help us most.  Information providers “bucket” their information and products by these keywords.

 It’s why we end up searching on “senior discounts” when at 50 all we’re trying to do is find a deal and would curse you if you called us a senior.  Or we search on retirement planning when our plan is to work until we drop, but know we really do need to have a plan in place in case we can’t.

 The words just don’t fit in our networked, stressed and changing society.  Any suggestions?

Written by Laura Rossman

June 10, 2009 at 12:50 pm