High Inflation Leads Elderly to Carry More Debt

The generation before the Baby Boomers, the Silent Generation – born between 1925 and 1942 was characterized by thrift, respect for authority, loyalty, and quiet determination.  Beginning their lives during the Great Depression and World War II, this cohort is known to be wary of risk, and worked hard to maintain stability and security.  Now that the Boomers are reaching retirement age, the financial picture for older adults is different and for many seniors, rising debt is threatening their quality of life and their health. 

Many more grandparents have taken on financial responsibility for their grandchildren, accumulating school debt, and helping to cover living expenses. A larger number of older adults also continue to carry a mortgage and have credit card debt.  But now with soaring inflation, older Americans are faced with difficult financial choices that include seeking food assistance programs and taking on added debt.  Rising debt among older adults, and the associated stress, are also linked with a greater risk of having several chronic health conditions. 

According to a recent CNBC Personal Finance report, a recent survey by the Seniors Citizens League found that seniors are not only spending savings as a result of high inflation, but nearly half of the surveyed Social Security recipients also visited a food pantry or applied for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  Seniors also reported applying for help with heating or cooling costs, or for assistance with medical or prescription drug costs. 

Many older adults are also returning to the workforce, at least part-time, to help cover rising housing, fuel, food, and other living expenses.   After the “Great Resignation” of 2020, more than two years after the onset of the Coronavirus Pandemic, many retirees are taking jobs to help them cover soaring expenses as well as stay active and engaged. 

Seniors are, however, more flexible than younger adults and are able to take steps to lower their expenditures at the pump by driving less, shopping the sales at the grocery store, and curtailing unnecessary spending.  There are also programs that can help older adults learn how to lower some costs, increase savings and help trim debt.  Learn more by following this link to the National Council on Aging’s Age Well Planner.