Debt is an increasing problem for people over age 65, and living within the confines of a tight retirement budget can make it difficult to meet basic needs. Fort Myers respite care experts discuss some of the common reasons why seniors wind up in debt, and offer tips on how you can help your elderly loved one prevent this type of financial strain.
1. Reduced Income
Many seniors live on Social Security and retirement benefits that amount to less than their former income and can barely pay for their monthly expenses, which leads to more debt and the possibility of bankruptcy. You can help your loved one sign up for benefits that apply to seniors, such as a reverse mortgage. Your loved one can borrow from the equity in his or her home to pay off outstanding debt or expenses without the fear of losing the home.
2. Medical and Other Care Expenses
Paying for treatments, medications, healthy foods, and Fort Myers senior care can be expensive for seniors living on a fixed income, but are also necessary to ensure they receive adequate care and lower their risks of age-related complications. However, these expenses can cause some seniors to go into debt. To help your loved one prevent debt from medical and home care expenses, you and other family members can volunteer time to provide in-home care or pay for a professional in-home caregiver and other expenses. There are also organizations that help seniors over 65 with medical expenses.
3. Lack of Budgeting
Seniors don’t plan to go into debt, but without a budget it can easily happen. Help your loved one develop a plan covering which bills need to be paid first and what items can be purchased with the money left over. Mortgages, health insurance, groceries, prescriptions, and utilities are the first expenses he or she should pay. This type of money management can help your loved one prevent debt while paying for the necessities.
4. Dependence on Credit Cards
Credit card debt has become more pervasive for seniors. Approximately one-third of seniors in America rely on credit cards to pay for their basic living expenses. However, when seniors live on fixed incomes, it is difficult for them to pay both the credit card debt and cover their basic necessities. Some seniors also inherit credit card debt when their spouses pass away. Discourage your loved one from opening up new credit card accounts or using them to pay for things he or she cannot afford, such as vacations and shopping sprees.
5. No Savings Accounts
It is a good idea for your loved one to save money, especially if he or she plans to age in place. However, many seniors end up in debt because they have failed to save up for retirement or they have saved too little. Many adults believe they will not live long and are not prepared financially when they live well beyond their 80s. Your loved one should always have 3 to 6 months of living expenses saved. Doing so helps prevent increased debt due to a loss of benefits, the loss of a spouse, a rise in healthcare premiums, or an illness.
To learn more about elderly debt and strategies to help your loved one prevent it, reach out to Fort Myers Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of respite and live-in care, and we also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and post-stroke care Fort Myers, FL, seniors can rely on. For more information on our in-home care services, call 239.449.4701 today.