Economic Struggles of the Elderly

Topics: Medicare, Retirement, Gerontology Pages: 8 (3055 words) Published: February 11, 2011
The elderly, or senior citizens, have always been considered a vulnerable population, physically, mentally, and socially. This population faces a variety of problems every day including many economic struggles. Older adults and the elderly are facing many financial challenges that may not have been anticipated. In spite of good planning and sensible living, their resources may be sorely compromised, sometimes destroyed. What can be done to help this population through the transition into retirement? There are programs that do assist them including Social Security, Medicare and Pensions, however is it enough? The Social Security Act of 1935 along with Medicare have helped many Americans since they have been around and have many great advantages, but it seems to be getting harder and harder for our elderly population to get the assistance that they need. In today’s struggling society they may be causing more of a burden for the elderly and improvements need to be made. The difficult part is figuring out what can be done, if anything. Keywords: Elderly, Social Security, Medicare, Pensions, Retirement.

Economic Struggles of the Elderly
Old age can be defined in many different ways and can vary greatly depending on who is asked to define it or what the reasoning behind the definition may be. One commonly used marker for defining old age is chronological age. When using this method, one might define old age at 65 when a person is able to retire or at 50 when a person can join AARP, the largest senior citizen organization. In an article from the American Society of Aging (Altman, 2009), old age is defined by a quote from 1912 which states: After the age of sixty has been reached, the transition to from non-dependence to dependence is an easy stage-property gone, friends passed away or removed, relatives become few, ambitions collapsed, only a few short years left to live, with death a final and welcome end to it all-such as conclusions inevitably sweep the wage-earners from the class of hopeful independent citizens into that of the helpless poor. (p. 63) However, no matter how one might define old age, the transition into retirement or into this stage of a person’s life, this population of people faces many struggles. Not only does a person start dealing with mental and physical changes with their health, they start to face many economic struggles as they are no longer able to work and have financial stability. Since the enactment of Social Security in 1935, the introduction of Medicare, and the availability of pensions, some of these struggles have been diminished, however with the economic meltdown people face today, these programs need some improvements.

As people start getting older and getting closer to the age of retirement, many fears seem to arise. There are the fears of not knowing what or who they will be after retirement, or the fear of boredom, or even the fear of death as they feel the end is getting closer and closer. However, in today’s society, one major fear that arises before making the transition into retirement or “old age” is the financial fears and wondering how one might survive after employment is over. According to an article by the AARP, about 61 percent of people aged 44-75 fear the loss of their assets more than they fear death (Fleck, 2010). People who are use to a certain lifestyle while working will now fear the changes that will occur. They might also wonder how they will even survive financially without knowing what resources are even going to be available to them. Yes there are many people out there who start planning right out of high school and have plenty of money saved in 401k’s or IRA’s but a majority of American’s seem to rely on benefits through the government including Social Security and Medicare for health benefits. The big question today however is will there be enough?

In 1935, after bank failures and a stock market crash had wiped out the...

References: Altman, N. (2009). A silver lining to the economic crisis: the case for improving Social Security and Medicare. Journal of the American Society of Aging, 33(3), 63-67
Chater, S.S. (1997). The Social Security safety net. Nursing Management, 28(3), 64
Fleck, C. (2010, July 1). Running out of money worse than death. AARP Bulletin. Retrieved from money_ worse_than_death.html
Miller, K. (2010, August 6). 10 things you should know about Social Security. AARP Bulletin. Retrieved from you- need-to-know-about-social-security.html
Moon, M. (2002). Medicare. Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health (2002 ed.). Retrieved from source=smart&utm_campaign=article&utm_term=Medicare
Pond, J. (2010, June 17). Social Security alone isn’t enough. AARP Bulletin. Retrieved from
Quadagno, J. (2007). Aging & the life course, an introduction to social gerontology (5th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill
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