Concerns about aging deserve our attention
A conference on aging is convened in Honolulu as baby boomers near retirement.
AS a conference on aging assembles here this week, increasing numbers of America's senior citizens with fixed incomes are unable to cope. Rising prices are troublesome for the young and strong but can be catastrophic for seniors. With 80 million baby boomers nearing retirement, the lack of preparation needs to be addressed in the presidential campaigns.
The problem is confirmed in an AARP study conducted by three university researchers. The rate of bankruptcy filings by Americans age 65 and older doubled between 1991 and 2007 and increased by 125 percent among those 65 to 74, according to the study. Those 75 and older experienced the highest jump in bankruptcies.
Elizabeth Warren, one of the study's authors, says the trend is continuing and that the problem might be far worse than the numbers reflect. Many of those who have planned for their later years are being pushed toward bankruptcy because of illness or unplanned medical costs, she says.
A recent poll shows that 85 percent of Americans are mistakenly confident their long-term needs will be met by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or their private health insurance. Medicaid covers only the very poor, Medicare does not cover long-term care and Social Security is not enough.
The theme of the 15th biennial conference sponsored by Hawaii Pacific Gerontological Society is "Leaving a Legacy: Recreating Our Work and Life." Its agenda is challenging, to say the least.
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