Too many women are neglecting an important subject as they age: how much money will they need, how much do they have, and what arrangements have they made to take care of themselves.
This is not an easy subject to discuss, but it is one that cannot be ignored. Thousands of women find themselves caring for elderly relatives and their own children at the same time, trying to juggle responsibilities and still have enough money to meet their needs. Cynthia Housell, a Washington DC lawyer runs WISER, Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. This nonprofit focuses on helping women reverse the inequities that can burden women in later life. Realizing that any woman can find herself without enough money because she is single or divorced or widowed or simply didn’t plan properly, Hounsell counsels women based on her own mother’s experience with a disabled husband. She says too many women don’t understand their rights regarding social security, Medicare and a spouse’s pension. This applies to all women, whether they work outside the home or not.
Of course, readers of this column know better, but the women in our mother’s and grandmother’s generation may not be so fortunate. If you want to start there, here is some of Cynthia’s advice.
Five Questions to Ask Your Mother or Grandmother
The huge boomer generation now spans the ages of 45 to 64 – and most of their parents are in their 70s and 80s. The Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) recommends that boomers ask their senior relatives the following questions:
1. Can you make ends meet? Are you worried about depleting your savings?
Many older people worry about whether they will outlive their savings and not have sufficient resources at the end of their lives.
2. Do you have a competent tax and financial advisor?
Especially in these trying and confusing economic times, good professional advice can be crucial to women before and after retirement to avoid the costly mistakes that rob them of the chances to maximize their savings and assets.
3. Are you struggling with prescription drug costs?
It is not unusual for elders to have thousands of dollars in annual prescription drug costs. Health care expenses are a major cause of depleted financial resources for older women as well as a cause of ill health because people put off getting medical care.
4. Are you getting all the medical care you need?
In addition to the burden of prescription drug coverage, many older adults skip important preventive or other medically necessary care because they can't afford the out-of-pocket costs not covered by Medicare.
5. Have you been approached to get involved in charitable contributions, investment schemes, business ventures or loans that seem questionable?
Incidents of fraud and other kinds of financial abuse are common among trusting and unsuspecting elders.