Staying Retired in a Hostile World

Staying Retired in a Hostile World

I was recently asked to be a guest on the South Carolina Business Review aired weekday mornings on National Public Radio. On the program, we discussed the challenges of staying retired in this country. Because of the importance to our SEASONED IN THE CAROLINAS readers, I will be dedicating a series of articles on this topic. For the past 13 years I have studied the “attacks” against Older Americans. What I have documented is disturbing to say the least. As an introduction into this vital series, I have reproduced the transcript of the radio broadcast.


NPR: Rick I know that there is unrest in various parts of the world, but why would the USA be a hostile place for retirees?


VANDERNOORD: When you look at the various facets of life, it becomes quite apparent that as a group, Older Americans have more working against them than any other demographic segment of the population. When you survey retirees, you find that for them staying retired has been much more of a challenge than getting retired. The factors working against retirees can be categorized into three segments – Political, Economic, and Social.


I can remember a couple of years ago we heard a lot about building a bridge into the 21st century. Well, the bridge is being built, but it’s being done at the expense of our seniors.


NPR: What are some of the POLITICAL attacks directed towards retirees?


VANDERNOORD: Of course the biggest would have to be the taxation of Social Security benefits. The socialization of our healthcare system and medical privacy issues are also very dangerous to Older Americans. The failure of the FDA to protect seniors from bad medicine and the government’s refusal to use the CPI-E index as an inflation hedge are all issues that just scratch the surface of why the political environment is hostile to Older Americans.


NPR:   I’m curious, you mentioned that one of the reasons this country is hostile for retirees is because of SOCIAL attacks. What do you mean by that?


VANDERNOORD: The most upsetting social trend that we see is that of public opinion towards older people. One study I reviewed concluded that the average US citizen felt that the air, water and space that retirees consumed could be better spent elsewhere.  Most retirees can tell you stories of how attitudes towards Seniors have changed.


The advances in technology have many seniors feeling like they are living in a foreign country.


NPR: I can probably guess that the ECONOMIC are taxes and inflation. Are there any others?


VANDERNOORD: For certain, taxes and inflation are the biggest economic threats.  Most retirees don’t realize that taxes typically are bigger than food, shelter, and clothing costs combined. Also, they don’t take into account in their planning that the inflation rate for the goods and services used by retirees increases considerably more than the overall inflation rate of the country.


In addition to taxes and inflation, convalescent costs have become a major planning issue.


NPR: Rick, you’ve certainly painted a picture that many of our listeners may not have seen before. With so much working against retirees in this country, what role do most retirees look for in a financial planner?


VANDERNOORD: Because life has become so fast and complex, most retirees are looking for their financial planner to fulfill three roles. First, they are looking for someone who can keep them from making mistakes. In other words, they are looking for a COACH. Second, they are looking for someone who can protect them from all of the fiery darts that seem to working against their ability to stay retired – like a financial BODYGUARD. Finally, retirees want their planner to be an INTERPRETER. Almost daily we are confronted with data packaged as news. They are looking for someone who can filter through it all and answer these three questions 1) Is this true or not? 2) If it’s true, does it affect me? ) And if it affects me, what are we going to do about it?

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