Fear of retirement is causing problems

Published 3:32 am Friday, May 25, 2007

By Staff
People may be living longer, but that doesn’t always mean they’re living better.
That was a message that a gerontologist brought to listeners in eastern North Carolina earlier this month.
Kelly Ferrin, the author of “What’s Age Got To Do With It” spoke to more than 200 people attending a seminar at the Greenville Convention Center.
Ferrin said people tend to avoid things that are unpleasant. The subjects of aging and retirement aren’t things many people want to think about. As a result, they put off financial planning and make poor lifestyle choices that come back to haunt them. The negative mental image of aging turns into a negative reality for many because they don’t plan ahead.
Ferrin’s message was that aging and retirement don’t have to be what people think they could be. She showed a chart that paints the traditional pattern for people. They’re born, they go to school, they work and they retire. Ferrin offered a different view. You may do the same things, school, work and retire, but not in the same order. Who is to say that one can’t work, take a year off to go back to school, go back to work for a decade and take a little time off and then go back to work for a while? People can do that if they have the financial resources available. Those resources can be available, but it takes planning and a budget. The clock is ticking and the quicker one acts, the faster the results, Ferrin said.
Social Security, she said, isn’t the answer — and that’s something some people still haven’t grasped. When the program was established, there were 40 people paying in for every one person who was drawing benefits. Today the ratio is down to three-to-one. Those numbers don’t lie.
The issue of aging will become even more important, especially on a local level. Not only is our own native population aging, but more and more adults from other parts of the country are deciding to call North Carolina home.
Retirees are moving across state lines in significantly greater numbers than previously reported, while continuing to seek alternatives to the traditional retiree hot spot of Florida, according to research by the Institute for the Future of Retirement at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Aging will become an even bigger issue that the nation must deal with, Ferrin said. Between 1946 and 1964, 76 million Americans were born. The baby boomers represent one-third of the U.S. population and the first wave of boomers are in their 60s.
The time to start planning is now.