October 23, 2019

Living the American Dream as a Senior Citizen

Imagine opening your mail every day and getting only funeral plans, solicitations for whole life insurance from Colonial Penn or another invitation to join AARP. This is the sad reality for many seniors, especially if they failed to plan financially for their retirement. For most seniors, the future is living on less. Their weekly shopping list could include Hamburger Helper and Spam. All beef hot dogs are a delicacy.

For many Americans, Social Security makes up a big portion of their monthly income and their investment options are very limited. Certificates of Deposit for many pay less than 1% and bank deposits pay even less. If they have any money in stocks, they can watch it go down the proverbial stock market toilet as the “Yo Yo” market sinks from a Bull to a Bear market as a trade war with the Chinese threatens to drive stock prices down even further. And even if this situation ever gets resolved, there is still the possibility of war with North Korea.

Monthly Medicare contributions are going steadily up and the whole Social Security situation is only a few years away from being forced to reduce monthly payments as a result of less and less people paying into the system as well as adding everyone and their brother to the Social Security rolls, many of whom never paid a dime into Social Security to start with. Now the dentist wants to pull the same teeth he repaired a few years ago when the seniors had dental insurance. Insurance deductibles keep rising as well so the chances of ever having the insurance company pay an actual bill are slim to none.

A funeral is cheaper than going to a hospital and Mac N’ Cheese is a Sunday delicacy. Even cards at Bingo run a dollar now up from 50 cents a few years ago. If they can afford a Sunday paper then they can clip coupons for food shopping.

Restaurants now take the sugar and salt off the table when they sit down and credit card applications stop coming in the mail. Seniors are now considered driving risks by their auto insurance company so their premiums reflect this high risk even though many only drive a few miles a day if that.

Many seniors are forced to skip meals to pay for medication that has gone through the roof. New drugs come on the market annually but the pharmaceutical companies cry that they have to recover their developmental costs even though many of the drugs are targeted for older Americans that can least afford the medication.

Advertisers call these the “golden years” and “70 is the new 50” until you reach the “new 50” and you suddenly realize that life at this age is not all that it is advertised to be. Sadly, our advertising culture does not recognize anyone beyond the age of 40 and the only time you will see a senior on TV is when the drug company is selling medication to this age group or a firm that provides caregivers is advertising its services to seniors. I think it is great that Americans are now living longer than ever before provided health accompanies the aging process. If not, the dream can quickly become a “nightmare.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Written by
Donald Wittmer

DONALD WITTMER is a retired business executive who held key roles in the automotive and banking sectors. For a time, he also served as a Fiscal Agency Manager for the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati's Xavier University, an M.A. in business management from Central Michigan University, and earned certification in bank operations from the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A husband, father, and grandfather, he teaches part-time at the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey.

View all articles
Written by Donald Wittmer
Click to access the login or register cheese