Americans may be living longer than ever before, but their bank accounts aren’t in nearly as good of condition. The American Association of Retired Persons reports that half of Baby Boomers are not on track to afford basic expenses in retirement. Three quarters of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 have less than $30,000 saved for retirement and 40% of Baby Boomers have no retirement savings whatsoever. Rather than ignore future financial needs, it is important to take an honest look at saving and spending habits. To address these concerns, the County of San Diego’s Aging & Independence Services (AIS) has been making financial wellness and life planning education a priority.
AIS is committed to offering financial literacy programming to provide older adults with the information and tools they need to make sound financial decisions. As a first step, AIS organized a biennial Aging Summit event last June which focused on creating a safe and caring community and addressed concerns and challenges facing caregivers in an aging population. Over 2,300 people participated in the event which included breakout session topics designed to empower residents in the community who are over 50 years of age.
Then, on October 24, AIS collaborated with San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU), the San Diego Financial Literacy Center (SDFLC), OASIS, AARP, and other community partners to host a day-long “Financial Wellness for 50+” seminar. Over 230 people attended the event to hear local financial journalist George Chamberlin share his sought-after advice and participate in some of the more than twenty-five educational workshops. Topics included: Getting Started with Saving at 50+, Understanding Investment Risk, Strategies for Getting Out of Debt, and Help for the Lower Income Senior. Additional educational workshops will be offered in 2016 as part of an ongoing collaboration with SDCCU and the County Libraries.
In addition to financial wellness education, AIS is working to encourage the community to proactively engage in life planning efforts by promoting the use of advance directive for healthcare (ADHC) documents. These legal documents designate a decision-making agent and outline an individual’s specific wishes regarding ongoing medical care in the event that they are no longer able to make their own decisions. A completed ADHC is a gift to family or friends who may be uncertain how to fulfill a loved one’s wishes—something that compounds the stress of an already difficult time. Staff in the AIS Community Unit are distributing easy-to-understand advance directive forms at community events and are sharing information on their importance.
For more resources concerning ADHC, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/aging/pdf/acp-resources-public.pdf
For more information about AIS and its programs, visit: http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/hhsa/programs/ais/