For years, many Americans have looked forward to their retirement, when they can stop working and relax. Instead of respite, however, many of today's retirees are starting to find their golden years fraught with financial difficulties and emotional woes.
Today's retirees can expect to be considerably more on their own than their parent's generation was, says Clare Hushbeck, an economist for AARP.
"For people near their retirement, in their late 50s and 60s, it's probably not such a radical change from what their parents had," Hushbeck explains. "The younger boomers and the people behind them face a radically different sort of environment."
After years of pumping money into the U.S. economy, baby boomers are beginning to leave the workplace and to use the same social and health benefits awarded their predecessors. Yet expected to support the boomers is a smaller labor force. This has analysts worried about the solvency of services such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, especially with people living longer than ever before.
The expanded life span also has people worried about being able to save enough money for retirement.
"The biggest challenge financially is health care costs," says Dan Blazer, MD, PhD, MPH, president of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. He says the unknowns -- the number of years a person will live, and the quality of his or her health -- make planning for expenses more difficult.
For instance, some people fail to account for extensive stays in nursing homes, a cost that is not covered by Medicare.