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For Boomers Only
Seniors In Recession: Practical Advice For Helping Your Parents Now
During this challenging downturn in the U.S. economy, not a day goes by in which we are not asked the question “What are we to do in the face of this recession?” The adult children of our residents and future residents are as concerned as they have ever been about the impact of this economy upon their aging parents.
Unfortunately, the senior housing industry does not have any type of “magic wand” to effectively overcome the realities of an environment such as this. Throughout each cyclical correction during the past 30 years, seniors have been disproportionately affected. The vulnerability of relying principally upon fixed rate income investments, along with the very real impediments to lifestyle mobility, has exacerbated the challenges faced by most of them.
In the current market correction (potentially a recession), these two traditional issues have been further complicated by the worst housing market in generations. It would appear that a perfect storm of discouraging economic factors has materialized just when your Mom or Dad was psychologically and financially prepared to begin enjoying their “Golden Years.” The result is that many seniors have adopted the age-old attitude of “I’ll simply do nothing until things turn around.” For many, this may be the logical alternative. For others, however, it could be a critical mistake.
At the top of the scale of vulnerability are those seniors who have a real and present need for either healthcare or personal assistance. The easy answer for many such people in today’s world is to delay a move into either assisted living or skilled nursing by relying upon family, friends, or home healthcare providers. While these alternatives may be expedient, they are seldom the right solution.
Next in line are those seniors who are perfectly capable of living independently, but who would be much happier and healthier if living in an active congregate setting. These people may be recently widowed, lacking social interaction, in need of giving up their car keys, or simply tired of taking care of their home or condominium. They can maintain their current lifestyle without a major challenge, and will often mask everyday difficulties which they may be having.
The third group of seniors are those who are simply reconfiguring their plans for the future. Most in this segment are fully independent, able to live comfortably in his/her current environment, and do not realistically need to make a lifestyle change in the near future. The trauma for these individuals, many of whom have been relying upon the equity in their home for a meaningful part of their future funding, is the perception that a significant portion of their asset base has deteriorated.
How, then, can a concerned “Baby Boomer” assist aging parents in the face of the current recession? The answer to that question will vary from circumstance to circumstance, depending upon conditions and family dynamics. In every situation, however, there is a real need for the adult child to become involved. The following is our suggestion for each category.