Finance for Seniors

Savannah was having a difficult time. Her 85-year-old mother was injured so badly that she was unconscious and had to be transported to the hospital in an ambulance. Once there, Savannah approached the doctor to find out what options were available for her mother and how she could make sure her mother’s wishes were honored regarding potential, necessary life support. Guess what? The doctor could not tell her much because Savannah didn’t have legal authority to be informed or make decisions on her mother’s behalf.

Retirement is meant to be a time to enjoy life without the 9 to 5 toil. But after working for the majority of your life, it can be difficult to find a new normal. You may feel like you’ve lost your sense of purpose in the world, and living without a sense of purpose can actually be detrimental to your health. According to a study from Psychological Science, researchers found that of 7,000 Americans (from the ages of 20 to 75) tracked for 14 years, those who felt they had a direction or purpose in life lived longer than those who did not.

Just because you’re out of the workforce and you’ve raised your family doesn’t mean that you have nothing left to accomplish. The new retirement is a time when you can think about what you truly enjoy without worrying about earning regular income. Here are some excellent ways to reintroduce new goals and ambitions into your life so that you can lead a meaningful existence post-retirement.

Often we will read or hear about an elderly person or couple unwittingly defrauded by a contractor, service provider or a family member, causing them to lose substantial money from their retirement savings. This kind of crime is known in general as financial abuse.

Seniors are particularly at risk for being financially abused. Sometimes this susceptibility is the result of diminished financial capacity, when aging conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia impairs someone’s ability to make sound financial decisions. But older adults are often targeted also because they control the majority of the nation’s wealth. They frequently have homes which have appreciated over time, and they don’t realize the value of these assets.

Our last blog post explored diminished financial capacity, or the decreased ability to make sound financial decisions as we age due to cognition factors like dementia, Alzheimer’s or other illnesses. In this post we want to look at the numbers of seniors with cognitive impairments, what’s happening with these older investors and what families can do to help. We hope you find this information useful when putting together a plan for your aging loved one.

Numbers of seniors with cognitive impairments is on the rise

If demographic trends continue, the number of people with cognitive impairments (and in turn diminished financial capacity) will rise greatly in the coming years. By 2020, about 55 million baby boomers will join the older population. Within the elderly community, the number of people 85 and over is also growing quickly, and should reach approximately 6.6 million by 2020.

Alzheimer’s and other dementias are occurring more and more frequently. Trends predict that by 2050 there will likely be 13.5 million Americans 65 and older with Alzheimer’s. Other diseases are responsible for dementia, such as Parkinson’s or vascular dementia. Cognitive impairment gives people a lower quality of life, increased disability and increased neuropsychiatric symptoms, all of which contribute to the decrease of ability to make sound financial decisions.  

Making sound financial decisions can be a challenge, even when you’re young. But as we age, cognition factors like Alzheimer’s, dementia and other illnesses can diminish our capacity to make good financial decisions. When you lose the ability to make good financial decisions, it’s known as diminished financial capacity, and it’s sometimes a hard thing to face.

Warning Signs

Hopefully, you and your loved ones have a financial (and legal) plan in place in the event of a health decline. However, this is not always the case, so it’s crucial to understand what diminished financial capacity “looks like.”

If you notice an aging parent or loved one with credit difficulties, irrational purchases, inappropriate investments, unpaid bills or other major financial troubles, these could be warning signs that he or she is having a cognitive decline that leads to diminished financial capacity. In this state, a person is more vulnerable to dishonest people who may take advantage of them.

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