so what happens when you retire w/o enough $ ? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I keep reading the scare stories about folks not saving enough for retirement, and I keep wondering: well, what happens to them, then? My understanding is that most people DO save enough to pay to live in their own home and then 18 months (average) in a nursing facility before death. And the people who don't save enough, will qualify for Medicaid to pay for that same nursing facility (or at least similar - I've heard that you "get what you pay for" in terms of nursing homes, but the Medicaid-paid ones pass licensing so they can't be that awful, right?).

So is the value of saving enough, that you get slightly better nursing home care in the end? And that if you save a LOT more you can travel etc more?

Is there any real risk that folks who don't save enough, won't have anywhere to go? It's not like the elderly are dying in the street, is it?

I guess I'm confused by the scare stories. Sure, Medicaid wouldn't work if we ALL depended on it, so "they" (whoever "they" are) want most of us to pay our own way, but there's no real danger to individuals so long as the herd in general saves, right?

(And no, I'm not using the availability of Medicaid-funded facilities as an excuse not to save, I promise! I save 30% of my net. )

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#2 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 02:40 PM
 
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My "plan" is not to save (I barely make enough to survive now) but just to work til I die. My family is set up that the kids take care of the parents when needed...I took care of my dad until I couldn't (he lost his foot and has too many other problems for me to physically do the work) and he's in a nursing home, but my mom is 72 and *just* got laid off, and she's going to live with my brother. When all of us get old, the kids will take care of us like we did our parents. IMNSHO, it's the way it should be if the parents aren't able to save.

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#3 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 03:40 PM
 
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There is no "retiring" if you haven't saved enough money.

People with no savings work until they are too sick to work anymore.

Often they do not have adequate medical coverage either, so when they are too sick to work anymore, they are very close to dying.

 

 

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#4 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 04:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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People with no savings work until they are too sick to work anymore.
But when they are laid off or fired, and their kids won't take them in, where do they go if they are healthy? Their income is gone and they can't keep their home/apt - then where do they go? Do people like that just move into nursing homes paid by Medicaid?

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Often they do not have adequate medical coverage either, so when they are too sick to work anymore, they are very close to dying.
So the nursing home, or hospital, both state-paid?

I really want to know. i keep hearing about this "crisis" (not just now, but for the last decade), yet I don't see long lines of people waiting for hospital beds; the homeless elderly don't seem to be greatly increasing in number. Folks who haven't saved must be going SOMEWHERE. (If this sounds snarky, I admit a personal reason for asking: my 71yo retired, toxic mom hasn't saved enough, I strongly suspect, and I do NOT want to be tapped to pay for her care. But I course I wouldn't wish even her, let alone non-toxic strangers, to die on the street.)

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#5 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 05:11 PM
 
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I googled "state assistance elderly" and found links to a lot of government programs for the aging and destitute.

If you've paid into Social Security you will expect payments from that when you retire (unless of course the system goes kaput by the time you retire!) For some people that's the only retirement they have, and they manage by subsisting on tuna fish, but it's not a great living. I think my grandma got Social Security through her deceased husband (she raised seven children with him and I don't think she worked outside the home), and she also picked up odd jobs for as long as she could (babysitting/nannying, etc.) and then just lived in her little hand-built house until she was too ill (mentally and physically) to live alone at which point my parents brought her to live with them. They had her Social Security and Medicaid to help them, as well as assistance from Easter Seals, but they still had a LOT of expenses as her care became more demanding.

I think if my parents had been unwilling or unable to take her in, and/or had been unaware of her worsening condition, she would have just died a decade or so earlier, and from complications of blood pressure and Alzheimer's (she stopped remembering to take her meds near the end of living alone) instead of peacefully of old age in a bed surrounded by family.

I think the concern about "not saving enough" is mostly about the desire to retire in your sixties to a standard of living not too far below what you are used to, and being able to live comfortably that way for thirty years or longer.
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#6 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 09:46 PM
 
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They live on SS, which almost certainly won't be around for out generation. There are a LOT of elderly people living in slums and eating cat food. Be glad you live in an area where you don't see this.
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#7 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 10:12 PM
 
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Depending on where they live, they often freeze to death in the winter because they can't afford heating costs. When I lived up North, I remember hearing of quite a few deaths.

They often go hungry as well. (Just Google Elder Food Insecurity.)

They often have to choose which meds to take or take them on a rotating basis which does not help their chronic medical conditions.

They can become homeless.

Etc.

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#8 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 10:30 PM
 
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Here they tend to die of heat exhaustion rather than freezing.
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#9 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 10:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Huh. I wonder if "they" will really be "us, or at least people we know" in 40 years or so. I know a LOT of 30-40yos who have zero or very little retirement savings. Huh.

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#10 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 10:42 PM
 
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My ex-FIL is a good example.

He never worked at any job long enough to get a pension. When MIL left him 3 years ago, he was 69 years old. He gets around $800/month in Social Security. That is IT. MIL always made more.

He teaches a few hours a week now in a community education program, so he might make an additional $200/month doing that. Let's say his income is $1,000/month. He's on Medicare.

His kids helped him get susidized senior housing; he has a 1 br apartment that costs 30% of his income ($300). Out of the remaining $700 or so, he has to pay everything else. He has an ancient, paid-for car, so he has to pay utilities, car insurance, gas (if he drives 5,000 miles a year I'd be shocked, so it's not a lot of gas ), prescription drugs, food, etc.

Subsidized housing is how the elderly who are able-bodied and able-minded, but are poor, survive. He COULD get heating assistance, food stamps, etc. I don't know if he does--when he was married to MIL although they often qualified, he was too proud to let them get a lick of help. We were all shocked when he accepted the subsidized housing when they split up.

So there's one example.
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#11 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 10:46 PM
 
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Let me just say, as someone who used to volunteer in nursing homes in high school ... nursing homes that were the cheapest options available ... I will go jump off a building or use my gun on myself before I live in one.

I come from a European background. In my family, if you need help - you move in with your kids. This is the norm. In return, you do what you can, i.e. childcare, cooking, etc. But, really, if you can't do any of that - it's ok. I remember growing up in Europe - I lived with my mom, my grandparents, my great grandmother, and it was GREAT. There was always someone with whom to play.

Anyone, I digress, lol.

I was shocked when I started volunteering at the nursing homes. To me, it looked like a fate worse than death. These facilities were awful. Bad food, cramped space ... and all the people just looked as if all happiness/life/joy left them. Which is not surprising considering the conditions in which they lived.

I'd take a box under the bridge before I ever went into one.

I just feel really sorry for all those people who have no other choice, and are forced into such a facility. I know they have some great retirement communities ... but those are pricey. I'm speaking of the facilities for which medicare or medicaid will pay.

I would not count on this as my retirement.

My plan is this: savings, and pretty much working until I die. That's my partners plan too. However, we both have "jobs" which we LOVE, and are very passionate about. We NEVER want to retire - what we do brings us way too much fun and joy. Why would we want to stop.

Honestly, I don't know what people do who have little or no savings and a job they don't love.

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#12 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 10:51 PM
 
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my mil lives in low income housing and gets social security and food stamps.

Kelly,newly single mom of four wonderful children.

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#13 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 11:26 PM
 
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A couple of important facts: You can't just 'check into' a nursing home, they're going to require you to meet some criteria as far as needing around-the-clock nursing care before they put you in a bed.

Moreover, before you qualify for Medicaid you have to show that you are sick enough to qualify -- just being infirm and no longer able to safely able to live in your home isn't enough to qualify for Medicaid. So it's entirely possible to be elderly, unable to safely live in your own home, but not able to live anywhere else. It's scary. This is a good reason to start looking into Long Term Care insurance before you get too (ie. 65+) old.

Generally, people who don't have enough savings that their savings + social security can find their lifestyles don't retire until they can no longer work. The problem is that if you get to a point where you physically can't work but you're not sick enough to need full time care -- "I'll work until I die" is a really bad strategy for retirement for that reason.

Personally, DH and I are making appropriate 401(k) contributions and will have some assets as an inheritance before we retire. We're planning on changing careers and working part time to supplement savings, as well as living in a home that is designed to be age-friendly and cheap to run. Hopefully, savings plus social security, if it exists, will keep us from being a drain on our children as we age.

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#14 of 24 Old 11-28-2008, 11:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The problem is that if you get to a point where you physically can't work but you're not sick enough to need full time care -- "I'll work until I die" is a really bad strategy for retirement for that reason.
Okay, now I finally understand! TY.

(I'm sure I'm not the only person who was confused and even a little resentful, thinking that we were saving "properly" while those who weren't - like my own mom - were going to have retirement funded by the rest of us. Yes, flame away. I posted because I wanted to know more, y'know?)

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#15 of 24 Old 11-29-2008, 12:28 AM
 
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Well, we will definitely have enough for our retirement. We just never want to quit working as we love our jobs! Not to mention, when we die, everything will go to freeze us cryogenically. Hey, we're atheists, it's better to have a Plan B, no matter how far fetched. So, on the flip side, our kids better not expect anything from us when we're dead. Cause it's not happening, lol.

On the other hand, I have no issue with helping my mom out. She was diagnosed with MS late in the game, and her medicine is very expensive. I don't think there even is a generic alternative for what she injects herself with - and, even if there was, I wouldn't let her get it. She's my mom!

Anyway, I think the work until you die is a good idea IF your work can be done from home. That way, in case of disability ... you can still work. Otherwise, yes, savings are very important.

Unless you're in Europe - then, you've got the family system in place.

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#16 of 24 Old 11-29-2008, 12:34 AM
 
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[QUOTE=Belleweather;12698270]A couple of important facts: You can't just 'check into' a nursing home, they're going to require you to meet some criteria as far as needing around-the-clock nursing care before they put you in a bed.

Exactly. It's not as easy as you think to get into a nursing home with Medicaid generally you have to be admitted to from a hospital with doc orders saying you have to be there, etc... Medicaid pays them far below what their operating costs are for the patients. If I'm remembering right from when I worked in one, Medicaid has a max limit for how long they will pay for nursing care home, meaning after a certain point the facility gets no money for that person. They can't kick you out though.

We are looking at this situation with several family members. My grandmother, an old neighbor of DH's that is like his father, and his parents. We already support the neighbor, we can't support anyone else. We can't support him forever, he is getting up in age, and is getting close to not being able to work, I don't know what we are going to do with him. He doesn't have health issues to get him into a nursing home, but is losing it mentally, not Alzheimer's though. It just makes it really hard to deal with him because you can't reason with him.

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#17 of 24 Old 11-29-2008, 12:40 AM
 
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Here's a good comparison IMO. My grandmother is in a medicare funded nursing home. She's been shuttled back and forth between there and the hospital bc the two argue about how much care she needs. She hates the food, has a terrible roomate. I mean, the place reminds me highly of the hospital were DD was born, only I had a private room and my gma has to share hers; and it's shabbier and the attendants surlier (sorry to anyone who works in one, I know it's a hard job, and some are great--see below--gma's place just sucks). And she's there until she dies; I was only in for 3 days. She can't cook, can store less in the way of possessions than we take on vacation. She has no money, never saved much/any money, did some stupid things with money. (OTOH, she never learned to balance a checkbook, my grandfather didn't think women should handle money).

In contrast, my husband's grandmother lives, at 90-something... 93 I think... in an assisted living facility. When/if she needs full time care, she can move to a different wing of the same facility. She spends a month or so in her retirement community in Florida (used to spend half the year there). She has her own 2 bedroom apartment, her own furniture and decor and treasures. There are pull bars and "need help" cords in every room though. Someone comes by in the morning and helps her remember which med to take when. She has to put a "gone to bed" sign on her door at night and remove it in the morning or else the staff will knock, and if no answer, will come in, to check on her. Staff is like a friendly hotel desk staff, not luxury, but kind. She has friends and regular grocery store runs she can choose to do or not. She can eat in the cafeteria (I think they pay, but maybe not) or she can cook for herself or go out to eat with her son or a friend who can drive. She and her husband saved, budgeted, were careful with money. She gifts all her great grandchildren with great starts to their college funds.

It's very very sad, bc I see my parents hurtling toward the same situation my grandmother is in all around. They don't seem to get that retirement and life and health in old age could mean anything more. In their minds, they'll be in their own house, a retirement community, or me, the only solvent child, should take them in. That last will not be happening. I don't have the space at all (2 kids, 650 square feet; so I mean it literally) and I don't have the emotional energy or desire to deal with their unaddressed medical issues (mom has anorexia; today she said she was too full for dinner because she "shared some of DDs apple." That was 1 bite-- smaller than the baby takes, literally.) and their racism (Let's not discuss what my dad and brother had to say about our next Pres. shall we? I've never heard such crap from anyone but them and my grandfather, ever!)

Me, I expect to follow in my GMIL and MILs footsteps!

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#18 of 24 Old 11-29-2008, 12:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Here's a good comparison IMO.
Thank you! That too was very, very helpful. I have visited folks in the second kind of place, but have never seen the first first-hand. That sounds like reason enough to keep saving!

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#19 of 24 Old 11-29-2008, 10:26 AM
 
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I think both of my grandmothers would fit into this category. They both received Social Security benefits, etc. The first grandma mentioned also used the food stamp program and the commodity food program.

One grandmother continued to live in her home until her death. It ended up being a very dangerous neighborhood in an inner city area by that time.

The other grandmother lives in a very rural area and is now living in a very nice subsidized apartment complex for the elderly. She has a small one bedroom apartment with on-site laundry and is really very happy there. She socializes with her girlfriends daily, is taking an exercise class, and very active and healthy.

I believe both used/use Medicare for medical care.
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#20 of 24 Old 11-29-2008, 12:39 PM
 
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My father took his $ when my parents divorced and moved to Thailand. Now he is over their looking for donations and helping children. He is spending his time helping people.

So thats always an idea. Move to someplace where your dollar will go a little further.

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#21 of 24 Old 11-30-2008, 03:43 PM
 
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Well as others have said, lots of elderly people live on social security and in low income senior housing. My great grandma did this. She didn't have much in social security but she lived in an apartment complex that was low rent but for seniors only. It was actually pretty nice. She also got help with food. It wasn't food stamps but like WIC for seniors I don't remember what it was called.

ETA. I think it will be much much worse for people of our generation (our meaning those of us in or 20's-40's). I doubt social security will be around by the time we retire and Americans are saving a lot less than they did a generation ago.
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#22 of 24 Old 11-30-2008, 06:12 PM
 
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My parents each live off of social security payments (SSD for my mom, SS retirement for my Dad- they are no longer together). They each live in a subsidized housing program. My mom has a Section 8 HUD voucher and my dad lives in a seniors only low income building. Without those programs, they would have to live with family. My dad does work pt (he is 66) as a tutor at my son's school but that is more for fun and a way to fill his time in a meaningful way than for $$. The $$ he earns there makes it easier for him to go fishing and pay for his supplemental medicare plan.

Is it ideal or a life of luxury or travel? No, but it is a very workable life and they have family close to keep them company and invite them to dinner etc. There are a lot of seniors that live in their same situation. My parents not only did not save (some bad choices, some bad life circumstances) they did not own a home. My mom gets Medicaid and my father gets Medicare.

I suppose people could say that "we" are paying for their retirement because they could not/did not save. But the flip side of that is that my father worked for nearly 50 years, and is a war veteran. He paid his taxes for a long time before retiring. He paid for your public schools, our roads, his parents retirements and medicare, etc. My mother is totally disabled and has been unable to work for sometime. I prefer to live in a place that sees the value in collectively caring for people like this, rather than saying "too bad, so sad". I know in some communities, they would be out on the street more or less unless they had family. While I get that family can/should provide help, not all seniors like my parents have any family to speak of and not all family can help. I don't have room for either of them to live with me for example. Nor do my brothers.

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#23 of 24 Old 11-30-2008, 11:37 PM
 
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Just to jump in here...my mother works in nursing homes, it is her calling. It is hard, really hard work (and often awful, backbreaking, heartwrenching, demoralizing, etc) but she loves it. she is one of the "good" ones. she has a particular aptitude with the alzhemiers patients, although she can only work that hallway so much (it takes SO MUCH out of you). She has worked in some decent places, and in some AWFUL places. I've visited many of them, and have seen firsthand the extreme difference. I still to this day remember one time we moved and she got a new job, and she came home SOBBING the first day at a new place and refused to go back. this from someone who has seen nearly everything and can deal with almost anything. I can't imagine how awful it must have been. I've never asked, because i'm sure the images would never leave my mind, and I don't want that scar forever.
trust me..if you end up in a facility..you want it to be a GOOD one, one that you choose, not one you are forced into that caters to medicaid/non-payment.

I remember talking wioth a lady at work, when i was young and fresh out of college...she was 60ish, but still workiong and in fine health...and she had already made arrangements and payments to a local retirement place. You had your own apt as long as you were healthy, then they had an assited living apt place, and then finally, a nursing home type place...and she said she would move there in a few years when she was ready to stop working and would eventually die there....I thought it was weird to have planned it all out and stuff...but now...I realize how brilliant she is!

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#24 of 24 Old 12-01-2008, 05:57 AM
 
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I remember talking wioth a lady at work, when i was young and fresh out of college...she was 60ish, but still workiong and in fine health...and she had already made arrangements and payments to a local retirement place. You had your own apt as long as you were healthy, then they had an assited living apt place, and then finally, a nursing home type place...and she said she would move there in a few years when she was ready to stop working and would eventually die there....I thought it was weird to have planned it all out and stuff...but now...I realize how brilliant she is!
Those are nice but expensive. And there aren't enough of them to go around.
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