Lying to yourself—it sounds so harsh when you put it that way. The more gentle way to frame the question is: “Do you tell yourself reassuring things, things that probably aren’t entirely true, so that you can live with the financial decisions and compromises you’re making?” That’s a little less blunt, but, when you think about it, no less unsettling.
I believe I’m a pretty good driver (although I’m also aware that, in perhaps the world’s most often-cited example of the Lake Wobegon Effect, most Americans feel the same way). I’m also reasonably sure that I won’t be as good a driver twenty-five years from now, when I’ll be in my late sixties and my senses and reflexes are likely to be considerably less sharp.
Without much fanfare, the Senate Special Committee on Aging released a report earlier this month on the subject of how the U.S. is progressing in caring for older adults diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The committee compared health-care infrastructure with that of Japan, Australia, France and the United Kingdom – countries chosen because they have demographics and economies similar to ours.
The report found that these countries were all ahead of us on the Alzheimer’s care front. But as Judith Graham points out in a sharply observed piece today on the New Old Age blog, the study also unearthed statistics that suggest that long-term care for America’s elderly in general is lagging behind the rest of the world’s standards.
A study shows tensions over paying for entitlements–but also some respect-your-elders sentiment.
In a day and age when fewer and fewer people have a pension and many people don’t have a lot socked away for retirement, it’s becoming increasingly critical that you calculate the best time and strategy for you and (if you have one) your spouse to take Social Security.
So my wish for you is this: Get the timing right.
Once your nest egg has reached your mental “magic number” — $500,000? $1 million? $5 million? – it’s tempting to start to fantasize about an early retirement. Before you do, you may want to test-drive MarketWatch’s “How Long Will My Money Last?” calculator.
The auto industry would love to make driving easier for older motorists — without using the word ‘older,’ of course.
A ‘chained CPI’ would mean lower cost-of-living raises for seniors.
Raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 may be off the table for now, but the idea will resurface as budget pressures grow.
Medicare’s open-enrollment period, when the 49 million Americans who use the program can make changes to their 2013 coverage, is about to come to a close – for most beneficiaries and their families, the deadline for alterations is midnight on Friday, Dec. 7.
The car-key debate can be a thorny source of friction in families where the elderly parents are still healthy and active. While self-aware seniors will usually admit that their reaction times and sensory acuteness aren’t what they were in their prime, they’re seldom willing to risk forfeiting the independence that comes with being able to drive on their own from place to place.
A Web tool can help elderly drivers–your parents, perhaps?– zero in on models with the right “assistive features.”
I have great respect for the midlife athletes I know, so I’m not deriving any schadenfreude from Kevin Helliker’s article from Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, One Running Shoe in the Grave. Helliker’s thesis: While running, like all forms of cardiovascular exercise, is undoubtedly beneficial to boomers, doing too much of it essentially erases many of the health benefits . . . New research suggests that over-50 athletes’ health can suffer if they run too far or too fast.
It’s been a while since cell-phone obsession was something that separated the middle-aged from the young. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reports that more than 85% of adults age 50 to 64 now own mobile phones, and about a third own smartphones. Even those with, er, dumb phones are getting more adventurous about how they use them, according to a Pew study released this week.
For most of recent history, American women have been living longer than men – and now it’s going to cost them more. As the Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Greene reports, the insurance industry, which up until now has charged men and women the same prices for long-term care coverage, is beginning to factor women’s longevity into their underwriting.
Insurers, citing women’s longevity, are boosting premiums for policies that cover nursing care and assisted living.
MetLife Mature Market Institute has now published its annual survey of nursing home, assisted living, and other elder-care costs, and, as always, it’s valuable reading for anyone who’s nearing their own retirement, or helping older relatives navigate theirs. Here are a few points worth pondering: “Should we move Mom to Shreveport?”
I heard an excellent quote from radio host Dave Ramsey that said, “In an effort to be ‘nice’ I used to be unclear. It is unkind to be unclear: Be a gentle truth teller.” While I don’t always succeed at the “gentle” part, I am relatively straightforward most of the time with my opinions.
“Skyfall” is first and foremost a movie about middle-aged job angst – whether your skills are sufficiently up to speed to stay competitive in the global marketplace, and whether age discrimination will keep you from doing the work you’re best at . . . In the new movie, Agent 007’s worries include tech-savvy 20-somethings and questions over whether he’s still “field-ready.” Sound familiar?
Challenges await on Social Security, Medicare and elder-care, and retiree savings
The looming “fiscal cliff” has generated no shortage of headaches for affluent families that hope to pass assets along to their descendants. Under current law, the lifetime exemption on the estate and gift tax for individuals will drop at the end of the year from $5.12 million to $1 million, a fact that has many people scrambling to rearrange their estate plans before the New Year’s Eve ball drops.
- Alison Seiffer for WSJ
But as MarketWatch’s AnnaMaria Andriotis points out today, there’s one potentially attractive estate-planning tool that many investors are neglecting: The 529 college-savings plan. Most such plans have a total contribution limit of $250,000 to $350,000 per beneficiary (just about enough to pay for four years at an Ivy League bastion, last time we looked). And unlike with some other estate-planning vehicles, the giver retains a fair amount of control over the money. “Account owners can withdraw any portion of the balance in their 529 plans if they ever need it,” Andriotis writes (though they may owe taxes on any investment gains). And the giver can even change beneficiaries if the original heir winds up not needing some or all of the funds.
The 2% tax cut could make it harder to keep Social Security solvent.