Helping Seniors Cope with Recession-Related Financial Loss

During the global economic downturn in 2009, many people were forced to reassess their financial futures. While some weathered the storm better than others, few came out of the recession in better shape than they entered it.

Perhaps no group of people was more hurt than baby boomers or senior citizens. While some senior citizens were savvy enough to see the economic downturn coming and therefore minimize the damage done to their nest eggs, many more witnessed their retirement savings take a big hit.

In many cases, the children of those baby boomers and senior citizens are left wondering what they can do to help. Adults themselves, these children have likely also taken a financial hit as a result of the recession, and might be puzzled as to how they can help their parents or in-laws cope with financial loss. The following tips may help do just that.

* Avoid using credit cards. Credit cards are not the solution to solving any current debt or financial problems. Credit cards are only adding more debt or, for those without any current debt, creating a bigger financial problem than the one that currently exists. While recent legislation in the United States has placed restrictions on creditors and interest rates, that does not mean credits cards are now a viable crutch for those struggling financially.

* Discourage risk. The knee jerk reaction when one loses money in the market is generally one of two things. Some investors immediately want to pull all of their money out of the market, while others want to take on more risk. The latter is similar to someone losing money at a casino and continually doubling their bets in an effort to recoup their losses with one lucky hand. Unfortunately, there is no lucky hand when it comes to the market, and adults should discourage their parents of taking on riskier investments to recoup their lost nest eggs. Regardless of how much a person may or may not have lost during the recession, the rule of thumb that investments should grow less risky as we grow older still applies.

* Recommend a relocation. While the housing market also took a hit during the recession, chances are your parents' property is still quite valuable. What's more, if your parents are still in the home where they raised their family, that's an asset they probably no longer need. Whether downsizing involves selling the home and moving to a smaller home or condo or selling the home and relocating to a more affordable state or city, it's an option that can free up assets and help relieve some of the stress associated with losses from the recession.

* Discusss a fixed annuity. Fixed annuities might not be for everyone, but seniors worried about outliving their retirement savings and having no income might want to consider a fixed annuity. These can be immediate or deferred, allowing seniors the chance to plan for living on a fixed income without having to jump right into it. Consult a financial advisor with your parents to discuss the advantages and disadvantages to fixed annuities.

* Suggest retirees adjust their withdrawal rate. Current retirees can adjust their retirement account withdrawal rate and save money in doing so. While it might not be ideal to cut back spending during a time that's supposed to be carefree, the recession certainly changed reality in ways many did not foresee. As a result, cutting spending by reducing their rate of withdrawal might be the best way seniors can still enjoy their golden years and hang on to their money as well.