Astronomical Increases For 2009 Medicare Part D
The Oldest Old Project: Saul Friedman

Dispatches from the Financial Crisis Regarding Elders

Here are some notes from a file I’ve been keeping about how elders are faring in the economic crisis:

“[Florida attorney Peter] Mougey has dozens and dozens of clients whose life savings have been seriously damaged or depleted by the unscrupulous practices of Wall Street investment firms that promised clients stable returns and then callously signed them up for high-risk mutual funds loaded with toxic mortgage and derivatives…”
- lawyersandsettlements.com, 20 October 2008
“At the same time, other parts of the economy are closing in around [61-year-old Corlette McShea]. Though her home is paid off, her property taxes have risen to nearly $14,000 a year, up from $5,000 when she bought the house 10 years ago….

“’What a terrible situation that you have a house that is paid for and you can’t even afford to stay in it because the real estate taxes keep going up,’ she said.”

- The New York Times, 23 September 2008
“From 1991 to 2007, the rate of personal bankruptcy filings among those ages 65 or older jumped by 150%...The most startling rise occurred among those ages 75 to 84, whose rate soared 433%.”
- USA Today, 16 June 2008
“[Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren] said it was wrong to assume that lives of luxury are bankrupting seniors; rather, they’re incurring debts to meet needs such as medical treatment. There is no evidence that the problem is consumerism…

“Bankruptcy, tough no matter a person’s age, is especially hard when you don’t have many years left to recover. Warren said some seniors fear telling their families because they’re afraid they’ll be put into a nursing home if they’re seen as unable to take care of their affairs.”

- CNN, 30 September 2008
“The biggest obstacle [to working longer], experts say, is that most companies are reluctant to retain or hire older workers. At the top of the corporate ladder, executive recruiters are routinely told not to seek anyone over 50…one-fourth of companies said they were not inclined to hire older workers…In an industry survey, a majority of technology companies candidly said they would not hire anyone over 40.”
- The New York Times, 22 June 2008
“For older people, there is no upside to the [economic] distress. ‘They’ve got to adjust their expectations of retirement,’ said Martin Baily, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. ‘The market will recover, but you won’t.’”
- The New York Times, 23 September 2008

There are hundreds of reports from cities, towns and rural areas across the U.S. whose Meals on Wheels and similar programs for the disabled and elders are struggling due to high food costs, increased demand and driver recruiting difficulties as a result of high gas prices. This one is typical:

“Senior citizen nutrition centers and food programs in Illinois are at risk of closing or reducing services as prices for food and gas skyrocket.

“’Right now, we are in the planning stage of determining if we will have to eliminate one or two of our home-delivered meal routes,’ Bob Smith, Illinois Valley Economic Development Corp. director of senior citizen nutrition and transportation programs, said recently.”

- Jacksonville (IL) Journal Courier, 6 October 2008

I’d like to hear from Congressional and presidential candidates about plans to help old people who have few resources to see them through this recession. As Mr. Baily, above, points out, many will never recover. Meanwhile, those of us who are getting by need to contribute money and/or time to our local food banks and delivery services.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ken Mitchell recalls a parental tactic most of us remember titled The Look.]


Comments

What balderdash, Ronni! Can't you understand that it is much more important to socialize the risk-side of speculators' "investments" than to assure the well-being of us old people? Unfortunately, I fear that the speculators were, to some extent, grub-staked by some of us old people--whether we were conscious of it or not (did we read all of the fine print?)

From the beginning, I have felt that the answer to the capitalization crisis lay, not in directly aiding the companies, but in aiding the people who took out the toxic mortgages. Obviously, I would limit such aid to "only residences" of a reasonable size, eliminating 2nd or 3rd homes or a "starter home" of 6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms. (Yes, I heard an interview of the owner of such a home, speaking of how he had just bought his dream home--which sounded pretty opulent, to me, for a starter home--and was now having trouble with his mortgage.)

Cop Car is right on! At this point, I'm glad I've never had a lot. I've been stretching dollars so long, I don't know any other way.

I could rant on this interminably but it's better saved for my blog when I'm in the mood for it.

I don't see anything in Ronni's post that could possibly be "balderdash."

I've seen or experienced everything that she included in this round-up, except for senior bankruptcy. And I did see every nickel of my mother's money go to a nursing home, for health care that would have been provided by the gov't if we lived 30 miles away, in Canada.

Stretching dollars have a breaking point.

And, on a less acrimonious note - does any one else wonder how our mortgage problem could crash the entire world banking system? I'm beginning to be skeptical about the American mortage defaults causing global bank collapses.

Mary Jamison...

You probably read too fast. Cop Car is indulging in irony.

Fortunately I own my home and because I am low income I can defer my property taxes. They will be paid when my house sells. I wonder what kind of a home a woman owns that has property taxes of $14,000 a year. It must be a far better and more lavish home than I have.

No matter how hard up we think we are, there's always Elders who are in worse shape. There's always something that can be done to brighten the lives of others, from helping Meals on Wheels, to visiting someone in the nursing home.

Helping and serving others gets our minds off our own problems and makes them much smaller in comparison to those of others.

Mary Jamison--My apologies for not letting those who don't "know" me well enough that my tongue was firmly in my cheek. As Ronni has pointed out, she and I don't always agree; but, I should never be disrespectful of her well-reasoned opinions.

Ronni--Thanks for understanding, and for explaining me to Mary.

I'm hoping that we can gather more of a collective awareness of ageism and the detrimental impact it is having and will continue to have on millions of baby boomers needing to work through their 50s and into their 60s and 70s.

To further illustrate the New York Times article about ageism in hiring practices, I was with a good friend this past weekend who is deeply in need of a job at 57. Here's the irony: He was the youngest person in the history of television ever to be promoted to general manager of a network affiliate. He was enormously successful for more than 20 years in that position, where he earned wide respect and appreciation throughout the community served by the station. He lost the job several years ago due to consolidation and acquisition.

Now no television station will seriously interview him for a GM job or for jobs with even lesser responsibilities, such as the position of sales manager (which he did successfully at another affiliate before becoming station general manager).

This cannot be the future for millions of boomers, or we will be in even greater trouble as a nation trying to grapple with globalization and an aging workforce.

sometimes when we get past this age or that age, we start to think we "should have" whatever....a nice home, money in the bank, a loving family nearby to care for us. I remember being flat broke at oh, maybe 57...no home, no money, a family who were totally pissed off with me. i had no job, either (having quit to move to NYC!), and nobody would hire me because i was deaf. with the offer of a room in her house from a very kind friend, i went back to the midwest, got a job working temp (previously i had been director of editing and writing for a prominent media research organization), and started over. when i arrived from NYC, i had $15 in my pocket. i walked from my friend's house to a supermarket and bought a bag of rice, a bag of onions, a bag of oranges, a head of cabbage, a bag of dried beans, a loaf of bread, and a jar of peanut butter. i survived on that until i got my first paycheck from the temp agency. (i've always done well on tests, deaf or not, and i got my first temp job the next day...shrinkwrapping steak knives for a very kind company who provided free coffee for their workers!) anyway, now i'm in my early 70s, and i'm not quite broke, but soon to be out of a home (sold my condo), and about to start working temp again--blew the top off their tests, too. ha. i feel like robert wagner in that movie (or was it a TV show) whose only skill was being able to hold his breath longer than anyone else. i've got a bracelet on my wrist. it says "we are such stuff as dreams are made on." (the rest of it goes, "and our little life is rounded with a sleep.") onward....

There are lots of folks struggling with the economy being what it is. Darlene was right, there is always something we can do to help others. I don't know if you allow links to be posted in your comments or not but for all of those who are struggling, here is a link to a non-profit website where you can get boxes of food for about half of what it costs in the grocery store. They have been around for quite a few years and are now in about 35 states. Anyway, they are called Angel Food Ministries. I am not connected with them in anyway but I know quite a few people who have been helped by them. They accept food stamps or cash and you don't need to go through a bunch of paperwork nor do you need to qualify. I hope this will help someone.

This is very important stuff. I hope you are going to update it periodically. It will help engage people - and remember, young people starting families are also affected when their parents'economic resources evaporate. It adds to their burdens, emotional if not economic.... I see that in young families I know.

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