By Anna D. Banks, GCDF

As Baby Boomers age and are getting ready to retire, there are a number of challenges they face. While about half of them express that the loss of mental capacity is what they fear most as they grow older, most of them also say that they lack any sound planning for their retirement and that they do not perceive achieving the financial goals they require. The average net worth of Baby Boomers is just $78,000, which is inadequate for their long-term financial security and poses a serious dilemma as the expectation is that this generation will live well into their 80s, and most want to carry on living up to their 90s.

In addition to this dilemma, Baby Boomers also worry about the necessity of relying on government programs like Medicare and Social Security, as most of them feel that they have very little control about such programs. Only 7 percent indicate satisfaction with these programs.

According to surveys, it has been found that compared to 20 years ago, the importance today of such government sponsored programs has increased by 33 percent. And yet, just 58 percent of Baby Boomers say that they know about the newly available program, Medicare Part D, with just 21 percent planning on signing up on becoming eligible, while 41 percent say that they are not sure.

Failing health with advancing age is another concern that most Baby Boomers say they fear. And yet, paradoxically, it has been found that there is a vast disconnect about what baby Boomers comprehend as the right things they need to do to stay healthy and what they really do. For instance, while 90 percent feel that they need to exercise in order to maintain their health as they age, yet only 37 percent exercise and that too just about two days in a week, or even less than that, while 27 percent admit that they do not exercise at all. Compounding this, many of them are also confused about what a healthy diet is for healthy aging.

Much of this conundrum in behavior/understanding is due to the fact that most Baby Boomers think that advancements in medical science and health care will be able to cure the diseases they get and feel that these advances will increase their longevity. This means that many of the Baby Boomers will have to rely on medical science and the health care system in order to ameliorate the harm that they are bringing upon themselves by eating wrong foods and not exercising.

Hence, it is anticipated by most policy-makers that one of the biggest challenges will be funding the long-term health care requirements and other interrelated services for aging Baby Boomers. According to projections, beginning from 2011, a vast section of the workforce will retire, resulting in the decline in their incomes and a reduction of the tax contributions to the state. Simultaneously, an increased pressure will be exerted on the states to pay vast numbers of claims for government programs like Medicaid. On top of that, a health care system that is understaffed already will have to find enough trained personnel to take care of these large numbers of aging patients.

Another challenge faced by aging Baby Boomers is inadequate transportation. With an increase in elderly drivers, it is anticipated that there will be an increase in the rates of accidents. States then will be pressurized to tighten renewals of driving licenses in order to curtail elderly people from driving. This means that seniors will have to be largely dependent on better and more public transportation systems, which are not adequate enough at present.

Crime is another factor that senior citizens are concerned about. It is expected that with an increase in the population of aging people, there will be a corresponding rise in crime against them, such as burglary and fraud. Senior citizens will therefore require adequate protective services from the state.

Conflicts between generations for state funds are also set to intensify. The younger voting population is expected to protest more to get funds for issues like education as states allocate more funds to improve the lives of the elderly. Other generational issues are also set to arise as voters squabble over various state funds.

© 2008 Anna D. Banks, GCDF

Author’s Note:
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