Monday, June 10, 2013

Is Grandma Getting Enough Food to Eat?

The numbers are shocking. I see the evidence when talking with friends and family, or when I go to the discount stores.  One-third of senior households have no money left over each month or is in debt after meeting essential expenses (Institute on Assets and Social Policy).  Many of my friends help their parents when they can, but it's tough to raise a family and help older relatives while we are on a tight budget ourselves. 

We all know someone who was raised by a struggling single mom, and that actually describes many adults right now.  Think about those people's moms and grandmas now: 60% of women over 54 across the country lack the income to meet basic expenses (Wider Opportunities for Woman.)  The struggle never stopped when the kids moved out, the (maybe) child support ended, and mom never had a chance to increase her job-earning skills. 

America Saves is stressing the need for all Americans to save for their future. With Americans, especially women, living longer - the reality is that Americans need to save more money for retirement - or work longer.  You may have seen these points on Money Wise Advisors, and here is America Saves' version:

Tips to Prepare to Live Debt Free in Retirement

1. Start saving, keep saving, and stick to your goals

2. Know how much you will need for retirement

3. Save at work and/or through a Roth IRA

4. Find places to cut back so you can save more

Let's say you're already retired and need help.  How much was held out of your paycheck each month while you were working?  A Lot.  You paid into government programs, and they are now available to provide the support needed to remain healthy and independent.  They are not handouts.  Millions of low-income seniors can access $1.2 billion in benefits that can help them pay for their health care, prescriptions, food, utilities, and more.

My goal is to educate the public on services available and avenues they have to qualify.   For those of you who are not local, here are two national services available:
  • BenefitsCheckUp - a service of the National Council on Aging (NCOA) - is the nation's most comprehensive web-based service offering information on benefits programs, specifically programs for people with Medicare and limited income and resources.
  • The Eldercare Locator, a public service of AoA and administered by 4na, is a nationwide service that connects older adults and their caregivers with information on senior services.  In addition to the link above, they have a toll-free hotline at 1-800-677-1116.
Use the benefits you worked hard for, and share these resources with those who could use them.  What is your biggest fear when you look towards retirement?