Sunday, June 30, 2013

Heritage Todd Creek in Thornton, Colorado

Not everyone wishes to retire to Florida, Arizona or one of the other Sun Belt states.  Some people long for the opportunity to get away to the mountains, instead.  One popular age-restricted community that offers retirees an opportunity for peace and quiet in the mountains is Heritage Todd Creek by Lennar in lovely Thornton, Colorado, just 12 miles north of Denver.

This retirement community is so appealing that it has been listed by Where to Retire magazine as one of the 50 best master-planned communities in the United States.  It is the only community on their list from the state of Colorado.  If you are considering a move to the mountains after you stop working, this community should be near the top of your list.

Of course, if you are considering relocating to Colorado from another state, you may want to visit the area in the winter to get a better idea of what it is like to live in a cold snowy climate.  For those of you who are used to dealing with cold weather and don't mind it, Heritage Todd Creek is a beautiful place to enjoy your later years.

Amenities at Heritage Todd Creek

Like other over-55 age restricted communities, there are a number of wonderful amenities that are designed to help you have a fun, healthy and active retirement. 


Stunning 33,000 sq.ft. clubhouse with dramatic views
Full-service restaurant and bar at the golf club

Arthur Hills 18-hole championship golf course
Indoor and outdoor saltwater pools
Tennis Courts
Miles of walking and biking trails
Fitness Center

Billiards room
Crafts room

Special Programs:

Yoga, jazzercise and water aerobics classes
Line dancing
Bridge and poker
Book clubs
and many additional fun planned activities

With Denver only a short drive away, residents have full access to all the advantages of living near a big city, including restaurants, theaters, shopping malls, museums and entertainment.  The community is also near several Colorado state parks.  It only takes a few hours to drive up the mountains to the fabulous ski resorts of Breckenridge, Keystone and Vail.

Homes and Price Ranges

Compared to the senior communities in some other locales, Heritage Todd Creek is quite affordable, with home prices ranging from the low $300,000 range up to about $380,000 for single family homes.  Home sizes range from 1470 to 2574 square feet with two and three car garages.  The square footage does not include the full size unfinished basements, which give residents the opportunity for even more living space. The housing is quite new, as well, since less than 400 of the 1,300 homes that have been planned have been built so far.  This is your opportunity to own an affordable, brand new retirement home in a spectacular location.

The monthly homeowner's dues in 2013 are $145.

Contact Information

Heritage Todd Creek
8585 E. 152nd Lane
Thornton, CO  80602

(720) 685-0873
(877) 201-2795

If you are new to Colorado and would like to read more about tourist destinations, hotels, restaurants and more, you may want to use this link to Colorado guidebooks from It will make it much easier to become familiar with the many interesting places to visit in this fabulous state.

If you are currently planning your retirement, you may also wish to check out the index articles listed below.  Each one contains some general information plus links to a number of articles on that topic.

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of Thornton welcome sign courtesy of

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Average Retirement Age in the US for Boomers

Boomers are Retiring Sooner than Expected

Good news!  Many Baby Boomers have proclaimed for years that they are not worried about saving for retirement because they plan to work until they drop.  In reality, that is not actually what is happening.  In fact, while the average retirement age has actually increased over the past two decades, people are not working as long as they once predicted.  For a number of reasons, people are making the decision to stop working sometime in their mid-60's, whether it is because of health reasons or simply because they want to spend a few years teaching their grandkids to fish.

Both the Gallup Poll organization and the Metlife Mature Marketing Institute have recently surveyed Baby Boomers and they made some interesting discoveries.  I thought that my Boomer readers would be interested to see what they learned.

Results of Metlife Survey

The Metlife Mature Marketing Institute surveyed older Baby Boomers, those who were at or near retirement age.   Here are the results of their survey:

The average age when the Boomers they surveyed decided to file for Social Security was 63.6.

Over one-half of the Baby Boomers who were born in 1946 were fully retired within a year of reaching age 66.

Baby Boomers are retiring about five years earlier than they had predicted they would. In fact, about 54 percent of Baby Boomers retired sooner than planned.  In about 32 percent of the cases, they retired because of health reasons; in 24 percent of the early retirements, it was because of a job loss.  In other words, many Baby Boomers are discovering that it simply is not possible to work as long as they had planned, even if they would still like to.

Not everyone who retired in their 60's, however, did so because something bad happened.  The Metlife survey discovered that about one-third of the retirees had quit their jobs simply because they wanted to and they were confident that they had enough money to get by.  The people in this group of retirees either felt they had had enough of their jobs, or they wanted to have some time to enjoy what was left of their lives.  I can relate to this group, as I recently retired from the job I had held for the past ten years and now I feel suddenly liberated!

No matter why they retired, the good news is that nearly all of the older Baby Boomers who had already retired said on the survey that they either "liked it somewhat" or they "liked it a lot." I plan to be in the latter group.

On the other hand, the Boomers who have not yet retired continue to predict that they will work until they are about 71.  This predicted retirement age has actually increased.  As recently as 2011, Boomers were predicting that they would quit working at age 69.  Many of these Boomers are listening to the financial planners who recommend that Boomers work as long as possible and delay collecting their Social Security benefits until age 70, so they can maximize their benefits as much as possible. 

My conclusion about all this is that people seem to be happy to retire early when they can, even if the retirement wasn't entirely planned.  However, those who decided to wait are often doing it for sound financial reasons.

Results of a Gallup Poll

I was interested in seeing slightly different results from the Gallup Poll, although this poll also indicated that people are definitely retiring at an older age than in the past, but sooner than they had expected.  However, the numbers that came up in the Gallup Poll were somewhat different than those in the Metlife Survey.  Here are some facts they discovered:

The average retirement age according to Gallup is now age  61; it was 59 about ten years ago and it was 57 in the early 1990's.

Currently, about one-third of workers say they plan to retire when they are age 66 or older.  In 1995, only 14 percent planned to wait that long.  Again, there is that five year discrepancy between when people say they plan to retire and when they actually are retiring.

My conclusion from both the Gallup Poll and the Metlife survey results is that, while people hope to wait to retire at age 66 or older, Baby Boomers are actually retiring much sooner.  I am sure the reasons that were given in the MetLife survey would be the same for the people contacted by Gallup.

If you have retired in the past three to five years, it would be interesting to my other readers if you would leave a comment letting us know what age you were when you retired and whether or not this was the age you thought you would retire.  Personally, I retired at age 64, about two years sooner than I had originally predicted, but I am happy I made that decision.

If you are starting to make your retirement plans, you may also be interested in checking out the topics below.  Each of these index articles contains an introduction plus links to a number of articles on that general topic:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:

Source of Gallup and MetLife Statistics:

Photo of grandfather and his grandson courtesy of

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for Older Americans

There is a new government agency that has been established to help protect older Americans from financial abuse and scams against the elderly.  It is called the Office for Older Americans - Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The opening of this new agency is significant because so many senior citizens have been victimized in recent years both by scam artists and members of their own families.  In addition, a number of retirees have been financially destroyed when they became involved in investments that were inappropriate for them.  This agency was created during the recent Great Recession when it became obvious that many older Americans had lost a significant amount of their assets.

In addition to the financial losses that have been caused by risky investments and scams, many senior citizens have been victimized by family members and financial consultants whom they believed to be reliable and responsible. Often large amounts of money have been drained from their accounts before they realized it. 

The mandate for this new agency covers a variety of types of financial elder abuse.  In fact, many of us have already benefited from the first actions taken by this agency, including requiring that credit card statements be simplified.  The agency is headed by Skip Humphrey, the son of former Vice President Hubert Humphrey.  In an interview in the March, 2013 AARP Bulletin, Mr. Humphrey said that the agency's goals are to prevent citizens from getting ripped off and to help people make smart financial decisions.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Projects

This new agency has already accomplished a great deal.  However, they have many other plans that will help protect both senior citizens and the general public.  Here are some of the changes they hope to implement over the next few years:

They plan to investigate credit reporting bureaus and require that they make it easier to fix mixtakes on credit reports.

They are in the process of writing easy-to-read guides to help people choose financial advisors.

They plan to require operators of nursing homes and similar facilities to resolve problems with unpaid bills quickly so they can help officials discover if the person has been scammed or is no longer able to handle their finances because of dementia.

They are writing a guide called "Money Smart for Older Adults" to help people learn how to avoid getting scammed.

Senior citizens will also be encouraged to report scams that occur.  Many older Americans are hesitant to report these events because they are embarrassed or afraid that their families will take away their independence.

The agency also plans to tackle the issue of risky reverse mortgages, which have left many senior citizens homeless.  This is an issue that has also been discussed before in this blog, so I was especially pleased that some changes may be made to that program.

How to File a Complaint with the Agency

If you feel that you have been scammed or treated unfairly in any financial situation, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  In fact, you are encouraged to do so because you may help prevent the same thing from happening to others.  The agency has set up a website where you can register your complaints and then follow up by tracking their progress.  However, for people who are less comfortable with computers, the agency offers a variety of ways you can file a complaint.  Here is the agency's contact information:

Office for Older Americans
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
P.O. Box 4503
Iowa City, Iowa 52244

Phone:  (855) 411-2372 (toll free)

Fax:  (855) 237-2392 (toll free)



Complaint website:

The more information you give the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the better they will be able to do their job.  This is especially important because studies indicate that currently only about 4% of victims ever report that they were scammed.  Increased reporting will also improve the effectiveness of this new agency.

If you are interested in learning more about ways to have a well-planned retirement, you may want to click on the index articles shown below.  Each one contains an introduction plus links to a variety of articles on that topic:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of older Americans courtesy of

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Advantages of Senior Apartments

A few weeks ago, a Baby Boomer friend of mine moved his mother into a senior apartment.  Her husband had recently died and the 83 year old woman was no longer able to keep up the home where she lived, either physically or financially.  My friend checked out a variety of housing options before deciding on a senior apartment complex.  His mother did not need a nursing home and she could not afford to move into a luxurious over-55 retirement community.  He was able to locate a senior apartment complex for her in a safe, desirable suburban community in Orange County, California, within a 20 minute drive of all three of her adult children, and his mother was delighted with the selection.  Now that she has been living there for a few weeks, my friend told me that his mother has made friends, begun to participate in the weekly Bingo games in the community center, and has started taking classes at the nearby senior center.

Senior Apartment Advantages

Why should you choose a senior apartment rather than an apartment complex that is open to people of all ages?  One of the major advantages with senior apartments is that the residences are typically safer for the elderly than those that are open to the general public.  For example, apartments for seniors are more likely to be designed with accident prevention in mind.  Residents are less likely to have to deal with poorly lit or uneven walkways.  Multi-story buildings have elevators.  The bathrooms typically have grip bars.  Even in high rise and mid-rise buildings, the residences are normally on one level and often have wider doorways and similar design changes that could allow for wheelchair access should that become necessary in the future.

There is one more reason why senior apartments are safer for the residents.  Crime is extremely low in these communities.  The elderly are significantly more likely to be victims of crime when they live in mixed age housing where a few predators may see them as easy prey.  Senior complexes often have limited access entries, monitored lobbies and other layers of protection.

In addition to safety, there are other reasons why these complexes are preferable.  They are often built near shopping centers, medical facilities and senior centers.  They usually offer a variety of clubs, activities and age-appropriate exercise classes.   Older adults may feel more comfortable getting into a swimming pool or taking a yoga class when they are with other people their own age.  The facilities frequently organize parties and other social events, so that elderly residents are less likely to suffer from loneliness and depression.  Many of them have exercise rooms and some, especially in colder climates, even have indoor pools.

Another advantage for residents is that special services for senior citizens, such as trips, classes, or tax preparation assistance, are often provided to the residents of these complexes.  Elderly people who live in other communities may not be aware of these services, or they may not have the available transportation to access them.  It is not unusual for retirees who live in more diverse neighborhoods to be isolated from the programs that could help them.

The majority of senior apartments are designed for independent living and have their own kitchens.  It is rare for the complexes to serve meals since they are not nursing homes or assisted living residences.  On the other hand, a nearby senior center may serve low-cost meals, particularly at lunchtime, for those who wish to purchase them.  Some seniors may also be eligible to receive services from Meals on Wheels. 

Availability of These Residences

Senior apartments are located throughout the United States in virtually every city and large town.  They are more difficult to find in small towns and rural areas, although a few do exist.  Another concern is that many of these complexes have long waiting lists.  Here in Orange County, California, I have known of individuals who had to wait six months or longer in order to get into one.  However, everyone I know was eventually able to successfully secure an appropriate residence, though sometimes they were not able to get into their first choice.

The best way to get on the waiting list is to visit a over-55, age-restricted complex in your area and discuss availability.  If there is a waiting list, or if they are eligible for the government voucher program for low-income seniors, the management can connect you with the housing authority in your state.  For example, in California there is a website at: where you can find available senior housing and learn how to get on the waiting lists for the properties that interest you.  Other states will have similar online registries.

What If Someone Needs Extra Care?

Residents of senior communities often find it easy to find caregivers and access extra help, when needed.  For example, if a person has hip replacement surgery or becomes injured, it may be possible to temporarily share a caregiver with a neighbor, or at least get a good recommendation to help you find a person who has worked with other residents of the community.  Neighbors often reach out to each other in these communities, as well.

What About the Cost?

There are a variety of types of apartment complexes for older Americans.  Many of them will accept government vouchers that are available to low income seniors.  This can be a life saver for the average Social Security recipient who only receives about $1200 to $1300 in benefits.  While many normal complexes also accept Section 8 vouchers, there are far more amenities available for retirees in residences that have been designed especially for them.

If you are interested in reading more about places to retire or other retirement information, check out the index articles below.  Each one contains a little general information as well as links to a number of helpful articles on that topic:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of apartment complex courtesy of

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Social Security Cost of Living Increases Under a Chained CPI

Since 1975, Social Security beneficiaries have received automatic annual COLA's or cost-of-living adjustments.  These were set up so that our benefits would increase every year in which there was inflation.  Over the decades, COLA's have protected millions of retirees from losing their ability to survive on their benefits plus, ideally, their retirement savings and/or a pension.

Historically, the cost-of-living adjustments have amounted to as much as 14.3% in 1980 down to 0% in both 2010 and 2011.  In 2013, the COLA was only 1.7%.  The amount of the increase each year has traditionally been based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) for the year preceding the increase.  For the average Social Security beneficiary who was receiving $1,240 in 2012, the 1.7% increase raised the amount they were receiving to $1,261 a month. 

The Consumer Price Index that has been used to calculate the size of the of COLA's is based on the prices paid by urban consumers for a specific list of goods and services.  The inflation calculation that has been used in the past is the CPI-W, which is based on goods and services used by urban American workers.  This has been criticized because some advocates for the elderly believe that the CPI-E (or Consumer Price Index for the Elderly) should be used instead.  It relies more heavily on expenses commonly incurred by senior citizens, such as rising health care costs.  However, CPI-W has been used instead, although it is a less generous indicator of inflation.

Now, however, Congress is seriously considering replacing the CPI-W with the even less generous chained CPI.  According to many advocates for seniors, including AARP, this will effectively be the same as a net benefit cut for retirees, as well as for disabled Veterans, who would also see their COLA adjustments change.

President Nixon signed the Social Security COLA law into effect in 1972.  Since then, cost of living increases have been legally mandated whenever the CPI indicates that there has been measurable inflation.  During the past four years, however, the TOTAL cost-of-living increases have only amounted to less than 6%.  Despite this, there is a good chance that future COLA's will be even smaller, should the chained CPI replace the CPI-W as a measure of calculating inflation.

What is the difference between the traditional CPI-W and the chained CPI?  The CPI-W is a formula that measures changes in the cost of items that workers typically purchase.  A chained CPI assumes that, when prices for an item go up, people will substitute less expensive items.  For example, if beef prices rise people will eat more chicken; therefore, they will not actually be spending more money.  This means that the size of the Social Security cost-of-living adjustments do not need to be as large.

At first the difference in the cost-of-living adjustments may not seem to be very much, perhaps just $44 less annually during the first year.  However, the amount of lost revenue continues to compound annually.  For example, AARP estimates that a typical Social Security recipient who is receiving $20,000 a year when he retires at age 65, by age 70 will have lost $662 in cumulative benefits under a chained CPI than they would have earned under a CPI-W.  By age 80, they will have received $5,248 less; and by age 90 they will have lost $14,076 in cumulative payments.

Remember, the CPI-W is already less generous than the CPI-E which many advocates for seniors believe we should be using instead.  To go from a CPI-W to a chained CPI could be devastating for the majority of seniors who will continue to fall behind inflation during the portion of their lives when they may be facing high expenses for medical and personal care.  By the time seniors have been retired 15 or 20 years, very few of them are able to work and recoup the amount of income they are losing to inflation. 

If we Baby Boomers allow this change in the way our future cost-of-living increases are calculated, we could face a very difficult time during our retirement years.  ARRP suggests that everyone who is concerned about this issue write to the President, your Senators and your U.S. Representatives before this change becomes law.

If you wish to see how these changes could affect you personally, use the AARP calculator at


If you are interested in reading more about retirement planning, check out the index articles listed below.  Each one contains some general information as well as links to other articles on that topic.

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of U.S. Capital Building courtesy of

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Arthritis and Foods You Should be Eating or Avoiding

One illness that most of us dread as we get older is arthritis.  There is no cure for it and about half of us will experience at least a bit of discomfort from this degenerative disease as we grow older. Some of us will suffer extreme pain and loss of mobility as a result of this diagnosis.  For Baby Boomers, this means that our Golden Years may not be as pleasant as we once hoped.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control keeps records of the prevalence of arthritis in the United States.  Here are some of the facts I found on their website:

Almost one out of two people will have symptoms of osteoarthritis in their knees by the time they are 85.  The rate is even higher if they are obese.

One in four people will have pain from arthritis in their hips during their lifetime.

About 50 million American adults have been informed by their physicians that they suffer from osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia or lupus ... which are all related autoimmune disorders.  This number will rise to about 67 million by the year 2030.

By the time we reach age 65, about half of all adults report that they have been diagnosed with arthritis.

Even our children and grandchildren are not immune.  About 1 in 250 children have been diagnosed with some type of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis.  (I understand how frightening this diagnosis is.  One of my granddaughters was diagnosed with it when she was only five years old.  While she currently gets by quite well, from time to time she does have a painful flare-up of her condition.)

Common Arthritis Treatments

Once we have begun to develop the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis, the most common treatments are over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, and many seniors consume large quantities of these medications in order to alleviate their discomfort. Unfortunately, this can contribute to other health problems.  However, what if you could reduce the amount of painkillers you take by adding certain foods to your diet, and eliminating your consumption of others?  It would certainly be worth a try.

Below are three lists of foods which affect arthritis in our bodies, according to the AARP website.

Arthritis and the Best Foods to Eat

Fatty Fish like sardines, herring, tuna and salmon
Other Omega-3 foods such as flax seeds, soy beans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and canola oil
Vitamin D from the sun or low-fat milk
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sweet peppers, citrus fruits and other foods containing Vitamin C
Brazil nuts
Onions and leeks
Tart cherries - fresh, frozen, canned or dried
Green tea - but make sure you drink the caffeinated, not the decaffeinated, kind

Foods to Avoid If You Have Gout or Gouty Arthritis

Shellfish - clams, oysters, mussels
Red meat
High-fat dairy foods
Anchovies, Herring, Mackerel
Organ meats like liver, brain, kidney and sweetbreads

(I found the mention of herring interesting, because it is considered good for other types of arthritis, but not gout.  It is important to know the type of arthritis that is causing your pain.)

Foods to Avoid for All Types of Arthritis

Sunflower, safflower, corn and soybean oils
(Both are common in many commercial baked goods and snacks.  Anyone who suffers from arthritis should avoid baked goods, especially those that are ready-made in the grocery store.)


If you are interested in learning more of the specifics about why these foods are good or bad for people suffering from arthritis, you may want to go directly to the full article on the AARP website, shown below:

CDC Statistics on arthritis:

If you are interested in reading more about medical issues as you age or about planning your retirement, check out the index articles listed below.  Each one contains general information as well as links to additional articles on that topic:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of tart cherries courtesy of

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ghosting or Identity Theft of the Deceased

Every year, 2.5 million dead Americans have their identities stolen, according to a report in the March, 2013 AARP Bulletin.  That works out to about 2,200 deceased individuals every day.  This statistic absolutely floored me, because I had no idea the practice was so common.  In fact, until I read the article, this was an issue that I had never thought about at all.  Admittedly, every once in a while I have heard about a criminal who assumed the identity of someone who was dead.  However, to be honest, usually the incidents I heard about involved characters on television crime dramas. This was not something I thought should concern me or people I might know in my own neighborhood!

Identity theft of deceased individuals is called "ghosting" and it has become incredibly widespread.

How Ghosting Happens

How do criminals get the information they need from a deceased person in order to steal their identity?  For the most part, we give it to them. 

First, the thieves go through obituaries in the newspaper to find the name, address and birthdates of the people they plan to target.

Next, they use websites on the Internet to purchase that person's Social Security number.  With just that information, they have everything they need in order to steal an identity.

What Do the Criminals Do With the Stolen Identity?

Thieves can commit a number of crimes once they have stolen an identity, whether the victim is alive or not:

First, they may open credit card accounts and make purchases in the name of the deceased person.  Often, this can go on for months, because the deceased and their heirs are not receiving the credit card statements, which may be sent to a P.O. Box or dummy address.  In addition, the deceased are not reviewing their credit reports.  Their heirs are probably not reviewing the credit reports, either.

Another type of crime occurs when the identity thieves go so far as to file fraudulent tax returns and collect refunds.  In fact, thieves actually collected $5.2 billion in 2011 alone by using ghosting techniques with the IRS!

How to Prevent Ghosting

With a few simple steps, family members can reduce the likelihood that the identities of their deceased loved ones will be stolen:

When you write an obituary, do not include the mother's maiden name, the birth date of the deceased, or any other detailed personal information that could help identity thieves.  In addition, do not include the home address of the deceased or any other family members.  Not only will you make it harder for identity thieves, but you will also make it less likely that your home will be burglarized during the funeral. (Of course, that's an additional problem that can come from releasing too much information in an obituary.)

Make sure you order plenty of copies of the death certificate.  You will need to mail them to each of the credit-reporting bureaus as well as insurance companies, banks, brokerage firms, credit card companies and the mortgage company.  If any of these are joint accounts, have the name of the deceased removed from the accounts as soon as possible.  If they are individual accounts in the name of the deceased only, have the accounts closed.  One of my friends, who has dealt with the death of several relatives, recommends that you get at least 20 certified copies of the death certificate because there are so many places where it needs to be sent.  She believes it is important to request more than you think you will need, because you do not want to have to through the delay of requesting additional certified death certificates.

Contact the Social Security Administration right away.  You can call them at (800) 772-1213 and report the death of your family member. 

Contact the DMV in your state and cancel the drivers license of the deceased.

Even after doing all this, you should wait a couple of months and then check the credit report of your loved one at to make sure there has not been any recent activity.  Do it again a few months later.  If you see anything suspicious, report it immediately.

Being careful to prevent ghosting can also prevent a lot of headaches for the heirs and the trustees of the estate.  No one wants to deal with proving that purchases made or tax returns that were filed were done by criminals and not by the heirs.

If you are interested in learning more about issues related to aging and retirement, check out the index articles listed below.  Each one contains a few comments as well as links to more articles on that topic:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of cemetery courtesy of

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fascinating Statistics about Baby Boomers

What does it mean to be a Baby Boomer?  As we have all been told repeatedly over the years, we are the generation that was born after the end of World War II, in the years between 1946 and 1964.  Once the war was over, the soldiers returned home, got married and started families.  These young soldiers and their wives, who still remembered the Great Depression that preceded the war, were proud to buy their first homes in the suburbs where they hoped to provide a better life for their children than the one they had known before the war.  These children became known as Baby Boomers.

The very existence of the Baby Boomer generation has had a tremendous impact on American society, beginning with the need to construct new schools when we were children and, later, started families of our own.  Now that we are reaching age 65 at the rate of 10,000 a DAY, we will also be having a tremendous effect on both America's medical system and retirement system.

Although it is easy to make generalities about any group of people, the truth is that you cannot lump us all together.  We are a complicated bunch of people who embrace every political, economic, religious and philosophical aspect of American life.  When I do research for this blog, I am constantly running across interesting facts about our generation and thought I would share some of the more fascinating statistics with my readers.  If you want more details, I have also included my sources at the bottom of this blog post.

Baby Boomer Statistics Affecting Retirement

Every 10 seconds one of us turns 65 (this amounts to between 3 and 4 million Boomers a year).  This means that we are the force behind the rapid expansion in the number of over-55 communities, senior apartments and skilled nursing facilities.

Not only are we currently reaching the age of 65 at the rate of about 10,000 a day, but we will continue reaching retirement age at this rate for the next 20 years!  This will result in more than double the number of senior citizens in our country by 2050.

Nearly half of all American workers (which includes our adult children) have less than $10,000 in retirement savings.   However, even when you only consider older workers, one-fourth of workers in the 46 to 64 year old age group have NO retirement savings or personal savings.

Baby Boomers tend to carry more credit card debt than younger adults in our population.  Approximately 56 percent of current retirees still had outstanding debts when they retired.

Seventy percent of American workers plan to work after retirement, and forty percent of Baby Boomers say they expect to work "until they drop."  (Check the medical statistics below, however; many of us will not be able to keep working for the rest of our lives, even if we want to.)

In 1945, there were 42 workers for every person on Social Security.  Today there are only about 2.5 workers per Social Security beneficiary, and this number is expected to drop even more in coming years.

Without savings, the financial situation for many Baby Boomer retirees will be difficult.  The average retiree only received about $1,230 a month in Social Security benefits in 2012.

Baby Boomer Statistics Affecting the Medical System

By the time we reach 65, about two out of three of us have at least one chronic disease.

On average, we have seen seven different doctors in order to get our medical conditions treated, and this number is expected to grow to fifteen different doctors as we age.  This can create confusion due to conflicting instructions and lack of communication between the various physicians who treat us.

Boomers buy 61 percent of the over-the-counter medications and 77 percent of all prescription drugs that are sold in the U.S.

Boomers and the Economy

Our generation is the largest buying group in the U.S., and we account for 40 percent of our nation's consumer demand.

We control 70 percent of the total net worth of all households in the U.S.  This amounts to about $7 trillion.

We have about 80 percent of all the money currently deposited in savings and loan associations.

We like to travel.  Boomers account for 80 percent of all leisure travel.

On the other hand, Americans over the age of 55 now account for 20 percent of bankruptcies in America.  Over 60 percent of these bankruptcies were caused by our medical bills.  In 75 percent of the bankruptcies that were caused by medical bills, the people actually had health insurance!  This means that having health insurance is not enough to protect our financial situation if we do not also have adequate retirement savings.

Other Interesting Statistics

Boomers watch more TV than any other age group.  (Perhaps we should stop criticizing our teenage grandkids for watching too much TV!)

We also read more newspaper than any other age group.  (This did not surprise me, since most of my adult children and grandchildren barely read the newspaper. They tend to get all or most of their news online.)

We use technology in our jobs, we are internet-savvy, and we enjoy shopping online.  (While many of our parents may still resist using some forms of technology, our generation embraces it.)

We are involved in our communities, with about 29.3% of us regularly volunteering.

About 55 percent of boomers plan to move to a new location when they retire.  About half of those will move to an area that is more than a three hour drive from where they live now.  They will be looking for homes that are smaller and require less maintenance.  This has helped to fuel the housing boom in senior communities and housing.

Despite some of the grim financial and medical statistics listed above, about 34 percent of Boomers love being empty nesters and say that their time alone makes them feel closer to their spouses.  This may also be related to the fact that Boomer women can expect to be sexually active until age 66 or older (according to Time Magazine, April 26, 2010).

The bottom line appears to be that, while Boomers can expect to have to deal with serious financial and medical issues in the future, there are still many reasons for them to look forward to enjoying the coming  years.

More retirement information:

If you are interested in more information about retirement, check out the index articles listed below.  Each ones contains an introduction and links to more articles on that topic.

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement


You are reading from the blog:

Photo of couple is courtesy of

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Live in Ecuador Cheaply and Safely

One of the most requested retirement questions I have received is for information regarding Americans living in Ecuador.  I have had friends who traveled there and they had high praise for the country.  In fact, they were so enthusiastic that they sent me a number of articles about how much people seem to enjoy their retirement in Ecuador. It has become a very popular retirement destination, with large communities of Americans in the major cities.   While most of the population speaks the official language of Spanish, the currency is the U.S. dollar, so Americans have very little trouble adjusting to the country.  It is also a very modern nation with great public transportation and high quality medical facilities.

Why Retire in Ecuador

There are several reasons why some Americans might wish to consider moving to Ecuador.  In general, however, most of them made the decision because they wanted to be able to enjoy their retirement on Social Security alone, rather than struggling to just barely get by in the United States. This small country has become so popular, in fact, that the Retirement Living website ranks it as the best place in the world for Americans to retire overseas.

The number one deciding factor I have heard repeated over and over again is that Ecuador is a very cheap place to live, while still affording Americans a high quality of life.    There are a variety of places to live in Ecuador, from cottages on the cool mountainsides to beachfront condominiums.  You may wish to live in a small village or prefer large cities like Quito and Cuenca where you can meet other retirees from the United States.

According to a report in US News and World Report, one charming town in Ecuador is Loja.   It is a small city with a population of about 185,000 people.  The average temperature is 73 degrees during the day and 45 degrees at night, and this is true the year around.  You will not need air conditioning or winter clothing in this tropical paradise.  According to the US News article, Loja is also considered a very safe place to live.

There is a large ex-patriot community of American retirees in many places in Ecuador, especially the larger cities, and some people plan to live there for the rest of their lives.  On the other hand, there are very few ex-patriots in smaller communities such as Loja.  Anyone who is planning to move there permanently should take this into consideration when deciding whether they would like to see other Americans frequently or spend more time among the locals.

The country is located on the equator and has a tropical climate along the beach and a mild climate the year around in the villages that pepper the sides of the Andes mountains.

Ecuador is very affordable.  On several websites I saw the estimate that a couple can have a high quality of life for about $900 a month, plus the cost of their rent, which varies depending on the town they choose and how close they want to be to the ocean.  In addition, for those who choose to buy a residence, homes and condos can be purchased very reasonably.

Food is also fresh, delicious and inexpensive.  One reason for this is because of the open markets where you can purchase tropical fruits and vegetables the year around for very low prices. 

Ecuador has high quality hospitals, while permanent residents are only charged low insurance premiums and co-pays. However, the access to medical care, especially hospitals, is best if you are located in a city. 

The country is very modern and many of the cities have facilities that are popular with Americans such as restaurants, bars, gyms and aerobics centers.  The country also has excellent public transportation including bus service, jet transportation, airports and inexpensive taxis.  (The photo at the top of this article shows one of the country's bus stations.) With such widely available public transportation, some American retirees have discovered that they do not need cars.  The communities are very walkable and, with the easy public transportation, you can get almost anywhere without  an automobile.

State Department Information About Ecuador

As always, I recommend that everyone should check with the U.S. Department of State website before they visit any foreign country, whether they wish to go there on vacation or live there permanently.  As of this writing, here are some of the facts you will find in the State Department report on Ecuador:

Crime is a concern in some parts of Ecuador.  (From what I have read on other sites, this is particularly true in the big cities.)

U.S. bills and coins are accepted everywhere.  The U.S. dollar has been the official currency since the year 2000.

If you plan to live in Ecuador, or even visit there, you should let the U.S. Embassy in Quito or the Consulate General in Guayaquil know.  They have a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) that will keep you up to date on safety and security information and will also make it easier for friends and family back home to reach you in an emergency.

The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador.  If you are planning to visit, you should contact the Consulate General in Guayaquil.

When you enter Ecuador, you will need to have a U.S. passport that will be valid for at least six more months.  If you plan to stay longer than 90 days, you must get a special advance visa before you arrive.

While in Ecuador, you are required to carry identification, including your proof of U.S. citizenship, at all times.  However, since passport theft is a problem, you should carry a photocopy of your passport rather than the real thing.

There is a great deal of  additional information on the State Department website so, before you plan your trip, you should read the full webpage at:

If you are trying to decide where to retire, you may want to check out the index articles below.  Each one contains a brief introduction as well as links to a number of articles on that topic:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

For more information:

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of Ecuadorian bus station courtesy of