Your chance of being attacked with a fist, box cutter, or pointed stick is debatable. According to this U.S. Dept of Justice report, there is an 83% chance of being the victim of a violent crime at some point during your lifetime. If you are elderly, let’s say over age 70, the same study says that your chances of being a victim at some point in your remaining years is 8% or about 1 in 12.
Your chances of being a victim are much greater if you are poor and or homeless. Note that statistics about crime vs. homeless people aren’t reliable because (a) sadly, most people don’t give a crap about homeless people and (b) homeless people are less likely to report crimes for fear of being victimized or jailed. Here in the good ol’ U.S.A., which was once the land of opportunity, your chances of being poor and homeless are virtually 100%. The median net worth of those aged 65 and over is about $75,000 bucks, most of which is probably equity in a primary residence. Assisted living costs about $5,000 per month, nursing care about $9,000. Which means when you can’t take care of yourself anymore, you have about 9 months before you’re homeless.
Now, here is the pisser, the bitch, the kick-in-the-crotch, down-and-dirty truth that you need to face right here and right now if you are going to stay safe when you get old.
Unless you take charge of your life right now, at some point you are going to be old, sick, homeless, and at high risk. On the street. So destitute that they won’t even have reliable statistics about what’s going to happen to you.
In your mind you are saying, “My family won’t let that happen to me” or “I’ve got Social Security” or “there’s always Medicaid.”
Stop kidding yourself.
Do you really want to saddle your kids with your care? Before my mother and father passed away, I had been assisting in their care for over 10 years. It exhausted me, and all I was doing was handling finances, paying bills, grocery shopping, occasionally cooking, visiting, shuttling to dialysis and doctor’s appointments, taking scary emergency phone calls at 1:00 AM, and so on. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for those who have elderly relatives in adult diapers living in their homes.
Social Security pays very little, and Medicaid will not kick in until you have assets less than $2,000. You will have to sell everything you own in order to have a roof over your head. And since there is a 5-year look back period, you can’t even give stuff to your kids. Medicaid will find out and claw it back. And remember, when you are “in the system” and on Medicaid, you have lost all control. If you don’t have any elderly relatives “in the system” I encourage you to go see what Medicaid facilities look like. Seeing these places will be a great motivator.
Face it now. There is no cavalry coming over the hill. You are on your own. Here are my recommendations.
- Take care of your body. 100% of human bodies fail catastrophically, resulting in death. All you can do is get fit and stay that way as long as you can. Lift weights twice per week to improve bone density and exercise aerobically at least twice per week for cardiovascular health. Quit smoking and drinking and maintain a healthy BMI. Get check-ups and take advantage of preventative healthcare benefits.
- Buy a home and get it paid for. Interest rates aren’t going to stay low forever. If you don’t own a home already, buy one now. Slash your expenses (I drive a 15-year-old truck and buy my clothes at Goodwill) to free up extra income so you can make extra mortgage payments. Get a 15 year mortgage instead of a 30 year. The sooner the house is paid for the better.
- Save, save, save. As much as you can. Sock it away like crazy. Once your house is all paid up, take the money you used to spend on a mortgage and sock it into savings (if you’re old already) or a 401K or IRA (if you’re not old yet). People always say they can’t save because they don’t make enough money. I call bullshit. There’s always something you can cut out in order to make room for savings. Eat out less, be less fashionable, etc.
- Plan, plan, plan. I recently met a really knowledgeable attorney named Shawn Majette who has a fantastic website with tons of great information for people who want to protect their assets and generally take care of themselves and/or their elderly relatives. Check it out.
- Look into a Long Term Care Insurance policy from a reliable company. This might not be worth your while if you’re over 40 because the older you get the higher the premiums get, but if you’re young it may be an option. Do the math first. If you’re aged 30 and the premium is $175/month, you might be better off putting that $175/mo. into a 401K where you could reasonably expect that investment to accrue to the tune of $200,000 by age 65. Your call. If you get one, read the fine print. Make sure that it doesn’t have some ridiculous lifetime max. My Mom’s had a $60,000 lifetime max and a $120 daily max which seemed like a ton when she got it, but when she needed it, it was a fart in a windstorm. Better than nothing for sure, but hardly gangbusters. Check the exclusionary period (the delay before it kicks in), the qualifications for payout, what it will pay for, etc.
Good luck people. Getting old sucks.