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
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.