Optimism is the Key to Successful Aging

According to a recent 25-minute phone interview study (we’ll tell you who later), the average 77 year old senior gave themselves a hearty pat on the back and high self-ratings for successful aging. Contributing factors were higher education and a continuing thirst for learning, good memory skills considering everyone forgets something now and again, good mental health, less depression, and a good dose of optimism and resilience.

optimismParticipants were asked to rate how well they thought they’d “successfully aged,” using a 10-point scale. Surprisingly, even those with physical issues and some depression scored the same as physically healthy people with moderate to severe depression. Oddly enough, everyone reported that they felt that their well-being had improved with age!

Bottom line? If you work with seniors, or take care of an aging parent, optimism is the key to successful aging. Keep your seniors engaged with others, helping and advising young children, learning about the world around them in books and movies, listening to great music, playing games, interacting with other people and pets. In other words, replace depression with optimism.

Oh yes, the study was conducted on 1,006 older adults between 50 and 99 by researchers from the San Diego School of Medicine and Stanford University, and is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Retirement – A Really Large Number?

Remember back in 2008 when lawmakers on Capitol Hill worked feverishly to pass a bill to get the credit markets churning again? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), told reporters “I think it’s important that we get it done right, not get it done fast.” Then Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), said “If we do it right, then we need to take as long as it needs.” Nonetheless, history tells us that getting it right was not as important as getting it done. When questioned about the $700 billion figure that the Treasury would use to buy up bad debt and “save the nation from a financial meltdown”, a Treasury spokesperson said, “It’s not based on any particular data point. We just wanted to choose a really large number.”

2014 traveling SeniorsThe scary truth is that fewer seniors today have sufficient retirement savings or pensions that retiring seniors did just a generation ago. But they do have increasing expenses.

According to the NCPA (National Center for Policy Analysis), a non-profit, non partisan public policy research organization, the majority of 65 – 74 year olds have a mortgage or home equity loan, and since Washington’s big financial bailout, seniors are taking on more credit card debt. The average credit card balance for 65 – 74 year-olds in 2010 was $6,000 compared with just $2,100 in 1989. For those over 74, debt used to be so low it wasn’t measurable; by 2010 it was $4,600.

Why? Rapidly increasing costs in housing, health care, home maintenance, rising property taxes, insurance and mortgage interest, and health care.

Seniors today are also spending money on travel, new cars and trucks, and even education.

Considering these trends, experts suggest that seniors get a handle on what they are spending. They suggest making a list of what is being spent on housing, credit card debt, health care, transportation, and the like, and what percentage of the total spending all these things represent.

If you or someone you know is struggling to make ends meet each month, we may be able to help. Because we are experts in personal money management, we can suggest solutions such as putting into place a debt reduction plan, setting up a budget, or simply helping to determine how much is needed for retirement and creating a spending and savings plan to meet certain goals.

When asked about a typical senior’s spending, no one wants to hear, “We don’t have any data points, but we think it’s a really large number.”