March 8, 2018
Retirement – Ripped from the Headlines!
When Squared Away first went live almost seven years ago, few reporters in the mainstream media wrote regularly about retirement. Things have really changed.
The Washington Post recently declared a “new reality of old age in America.” The New York Times and The Boston Globe have regular retirement writers. Even The New Yorker – the go-to read for the aging but still hip – dived in and investigated an abhorrent case involving an abused elderly woman.
Retirement is a hot topic, because some 10,000 boomers have been retiring daily for years – in fact, the media frequently cite this statistic – and an unprecedented number of the boomers who still work are thinking a lot about whether or when to stop.
This blog publishes twice a week, and I don’t have time for the in-depth investigations I did as a Boston Globe reporter. But plenty of newspaper and magazine reporters are exploring retirement issues in great detail.
Here are five of the best articles in recent months:
The New Yorker: “How the Elderly Lose their Rights”:
Metropolitan newspapers often cover local nursing homes charged with elder abuse. This lengthy article is about one government-appointed guardian’s abuse of one elderly woman. This extreme case carries a larger message: how readily some people take advantage of the most vulnerable elderly.
The New York Times: “There’s Community and Consensus. But it’s No Commune.”
Here’s some good news: rather than funnel older people into housing strictly for the elderly, multigenerational “co-housing” developments offer children of the 1960s a place to live, where they can remain engaged with younger people – and society.
The Atlantic: “This is What Life Without Retirement Savings Looks Like”:
Analyses by our research center here at Boston College find that about half of working Americans should have enough money to retire. But the other half of retirees will rely solely on their Social Security. This woman, age 76, had to go to work at a grocery store to supplement her income. …Learn More
March 6, 2018
Stock Market Jitters, Millennials? Relax
Back in December, the Vanguard Group predicted a stock market that would “remain placidly subdued” in 2018. What a difference two months has made.
A Morgan Stanley analyst, echoing many on Wall Street, has now declared, “The long-anticipated return of [stock market] volatility has arrived.” The Standard & Poor’s index of 500 stocks slid 10 percent in a few days in late January and early February, bounced back, and then dropped again last week: the S&P declined another 2 percent, and the Dow index was down even more, by 3 percent.
No one can predict the future, of course – not Vanguard or Morgan Stanley. “Time will tell,” the analyst said. But while baby boomers have been thrown around by the stock market and witnessed a recovery in their portfolios, young adults might not be so chill.
Here are some earnest words of comfort, Millennials: you are truly the lucky ones. …Learn More
March 1, 2018
Future ‘Retirees’ Plan to Work
Most people used to sign up for Social Security when they were fairly young – around 62, which is the earliest age allowed. Not today: fewer than 40 percent are filing for benefits at that age.
So what else are we doing differently? Well, working in retirement is high on the list.
About one in three Americans calling themselves retired in a new AARP survey have worked or now work in part-time, seasonal and sporadic jobs or sometimes full-time.
Keeping in mind that people don’t always do what they’d planned, boomers’ expectations for work exceed what current retirees are doing. Well over half of workers over 50 plan to find some kind of work after they retire.
The seeming oxymoron – working “retirees” – plays out in various ways. State and local government workers retire as early as their 50s if they’ve worked enough years to max out their pensions. Some of these civil servants find other jobs while collecting a pension. Boomers who’ve left career jobs but lack a pension cut back to part-time work in their field or find a full- or part-time job in a new field.
Money is a major reason, with a notable exception. Some people work into their late 60s or 70s because they just enjoy it. They’re usually the most educated and frequently see their jobs as a labor of love that sustains their personal growth, professional identities, or relationships. …Learn More
February 27, 2018
Geriatric Help Eases Family Discord
Family harmony and your parent’s desires are the top priorities during their final years of life – not long-simmering sibling arguments or what you may feel is best for him or her.
That’s why it’s critical for the entire family to gather around parents for caring and gentle conversations before a crisis occurs, such as a medical emergency or sudden cognitive decline.
Jennifer B. Warkentin
“These are the kinds of conversations that need to happen while a parent is still able to discuss the options and make their wishes clear,” said Jennifer B. Warkentin, a clinical psychologist specializing in geriatric care.
Numerous conversations will actually be required to sort out myriad potential needs as a parent continues to age. The issues are both simple and complicated, from contacting Meals on Wheels and installing a shower chair to putting parents’ financial affairs in order, finding a suitable home health aide, and preparing legal documents.
Some parents are eager to have this conversation so they can get things squared away. More often, however, the conversations are tricky, because they make parents uncomfortable with a perceived “role reversal,” said Warkentin, who works primarily with elderly people in skilled nursing facilities in Boston’s western suburbs. She also has clients in independent and assisted living facilities. …Learn More
February 22, 2018
What’s a Geriatric Care Manager Anyway?
Staging your parent’s 90th birthday party, accompanying him or her to a doctor’s appointment, or finding the best long-term care facility for the right price – geriatric care managers do all this and much more.
Geriatric care managers come into the profession with expertise ranging from gerontology and nursing to social work and psychology, and they bring a unique perspective to caring for the elderly. Their first loyalty is to your parent and her well-being, though they want to work closely with everyone involved – parent and adult children – to meet the parent’s wishes.
Suzanne Modigliani, an aging life care specialist near Boston, handles “all spheres of an individual’s life – physical, cognitive social, emotional, financial, community and family.” She’ll even make referrals to geriatric care managers for a parent living in a different city.
An elderly person’s top choice for a caregiver is, logically, their spouse – daughters are typically next. And credentialed geriatric care managers are not cheap: they charge anywhere from $100 to $200 per hour, depending in part on an area’s cost of living – hourly charges can be $400 in Manhattan.
So how do adult children know if their parent could benefit from having a geriatric care manager? Modigliani advises them to be on the lookout for unusual behaviors such as growing difficulty with routine financial matters that the parent has always handled, or a bare refrigerator at mom’s house during holiday gatherings.
Unfortunately, it’s often a medical or other crisis that suddenly alerts siblings to problems that have been developing for a while. Waiting until a crisis, when tensions are high, is usually the worst time to deal with emotional issues – including finding a good care manager. Geriatric care managers have experience and can help smooth over these situations. …Learn More
February 20, 2018
What’s New in Retirement Research
Millennials, longevity, Americans’ retirement outlook – these are among the topics economists tackle in five interesting research briefs.
Links to each brief below appear at the end of their titles. (Full disclosure: the researchers are at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, which funds this blog.)
- “Will Millennials Be Ready for Retirement?” – They are the most educated generation. Yet they lag previous generations of young adults in their retirement preparedness. Student loan debt is one big reason.
- “National Retirement Risk Index Shows Modest Improvement in 2016” – Rising house prices boosted individuals’ wealth, modestly improving our retirement outlook. But, again, Millennials face significant headwinds.
- “Is Working Longer a Good Prescription for All? – Most households’ retirement plans would benefit from working longer, saving more, and delaying Social Security. Low-income and less-educated workers with the most to gain financially, however have fewer job options for postponing retirement. …
February 15, 2018
The Ultimate in Travel: Retiring Abroad
Tami Fincher dives into projects head first. Two years into a 5-year plan to retire early in Central America, her short list – so far – is Boca Chica and El Valle de Antón, in Panama, and Guanacaste Province, in northern Costa Rica.
She and husband Stephen Fincher are making their plans to join the growing number of Americans-turned-expatriate retirees. In 2016, more than 603,200 Social Security checks were mailed to retirees, their spouses and widows living abroad. They are moving as much for the adventure as for the lower cost many countries offer.
An exotic retirement isn’t for everyone. Even if they could save on living costs, people who’ve never been keen on international travel might prefer to remain close to home and grandchildren. But the baby boomer wave is pushing up the number of U.S. retirees living abroad – by 11 percent in five years, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration, which tracks its pension checks sent overseas. Ex-pat’s favorite countries include Japan, Mexico, France, Thailand, and Colombia. (More are listed on the next page.)
To assess the pros and cons of Costa Rica vs. Panama, the Finchers made their first exploratory trips, to Costa Rica last June for their 20th anniversary and to Panama over the New Year’s holiday. If Tami, age 53, has her way, they’ll retire in about three years and sell their Houston home to relocate. …Learn More