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I Love My Grandparents: Elderly Perspectives on Money and Retirement

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About this sample

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Words: 3279 |

Pages: 7|

17 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Words: 3279|Pages: 7|17 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Evolving Lifestyles of My Grandparents
  3. My Family-Oriented Grandparents
  4. Grandparents' Approach to Money
  5. Helping Elderly Veterans
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works Cited

Introduction

My grandparents have helped shape the person I am today, and I have learned so much from growing up around them and asking questions. Whether it be talking about sports, business, or just life in general, my grandparents have always taken time out of their day to help educate me in any way possible. I love my grandparents, and this assignment proved no different. I decided to interview my grandpas on both sides of the family, one being 92 and the other being 90. Since both of them went to war in their 20’s growing up, they both have stories and experiences detailing their ups and downs in life. While taking this class, we learned about the effects of aging and how to plan for those years later in life, and this assignment and interview gave us an opportunity to really put these lessons into real life and hear stories from people who are currently facing these everyday trials. Through these conversations with my grandparents, I learned about their current health complications, their plan on preparing for the future, and how their ability to live has changed throughout the years.

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Evolving Lifestyles of My Grandparents

With both of my interviewees being in their 90’s respectively, both stated that their living habits have changed drastically throughout their lives. One of my grandpas, Fred, who is 92, has had arthritis in his knees since he was around 40 years old. Because of this, he stated that he stopped moving around and exercising as much and opted to stay inside and around the house rather than be mobile and in pain. “Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the US” (Arthritis Foundation) and affects more than “54 million adults”. This lack of exercise caused by arteritis, combined with failure to monitor his eating habits, is a cause of his Type-2 diabetes, which is a disease that he has been living with since he was 63. Type-2 diabetes runs in our family, as my great-grandpa also struggled with this life-long disease, which increases our chances of obtaining diabetes. These two conditions have a correlation, as “47 percent of adults with diabetes have arthritis” (Arthritis Foundation). After being diagnosed with this disease, my grandpa had to change his lifestyle habits, which included sticking to a healthy diet, monitoring his blood glucose levels, and going on limited walks without hurting his knees. To take care of his disease, he takes a medication called Glumetza so his body can use insulin. Around “29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes” (Healthline) and for seniors, “more than four” in every 10 adults have the disease. While diabetes can be linked to arthritis, this severe disease can also be connected to Alzheimer’s disease. Although my grandpa Fred does not suffer from Alzheimer’s, he is at a great risk because of his diabetes. This link has been explained as type 2 diabetes “affects the ability of the brain and other body tissues to use sugar (glucose) and respond to insulin” (Mayo Clinic). While my grandpa is suffering from issues such as diabetes and arthritis, he continues to stay persistent with a healthy diet, positive attitude, and exercising when he can.

My other grandpa, Mike, on the other hand, had to change his lifestyle completely when he suffered a stroke in 2009. While he still appears normal while having a conversation with him, he states that he can have trouble performing everyday activities. During the interview he stated, “I can put my glasses down and not remember where I put them ten minutes later, showing that I have bad short-term memory. But I can also still remember things that happened years ago, like the first time I saw your grandmother in the church, it is painted in my mind.” Although he can have trouble remembering the little things that occur every day, milestones such as that will always be implemented in his brain. My grandpa said that he still visits the doctor regularly and is prescribed a blood thinner in order to prevent blood clots from appearing. As the years have gone on since the stroke, I have noticed that he can have problems with his speech and inability to walk at some points. When I ask him about recent events such as family gatherings and my brother’s baseball games which he attended, he can be slow to gather information and recall them. Strokes kill hundreds of thousands of people per year, as “Each year, approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke… Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65” (Stroke Center). Strokes can also lead to dementia in some patients, which makes it very difficult to process information and can be more common for patients who have just suffered a stroke. While strokes can be very deadly and a leading killer among adults, many patients can be treated with rehab and time. Although my grandpa faces these problems every day, he does not let them affect his well-being, and continues to be very upbeat and positive about his condition.

My Family-Oriented Grandparents

My family and grandparents are very close and try to spend as much time together as we can. When any members of my family are sick, my grandpa takes care of us, and when he or my grandma are sick, my family steps in to take care of them. When asked what our family does for him, my grandpa Fred answered, “they keep me thriving because they are the reason I am alive and happy”. He went on to say that, “when your grandma was sick and not doing well, you and your mom took care of her when I was not able to. If I became disabled, I believe that you would make the right decision and put me in a nursing home.” While it was difficult, my family had to put my grandma in a nursing home this past summer as my grandpa cannot take care of her by himself anymore. Though my grandpa states that he thinks a nursing home is the smart option for him and his wife, he knows the unspoken truth of elderly abuse when I asked him about it. He has never heard of anyone close to him experiencing such abuse, but is aware of the threat it poses, stating that “the people in these homes are in a vulnerable state, and it can be easy to take advantage of them financially or physically”. While he insists that he makes sure he can trust the living facility and employees before he or a family member decide to live there, there is always a possibility for abuse. A staggering “3.2 million people in the U.S. live in nursing homes and are subject to abuse and/or neglect” (Nursing Home Abuse Center), but only “1 out of 14” report the incidences to someone. Putting someone in a nursing home does not only hurt emotionally, but financially as well. The cost of a typical room in the United States is “$253 a day or $7,698 per month for a private room in a nursing home” (Long Term Care), among other charges and fees associated with extra requested services. My grandpa went on to say that he believes the cost for nursing homes should be lowered because not everyone can afford them. He brought up the issue of a portion of the elderly population becoming homeless. There has been a recent growth with the elderly becoming homeless as “People 50 and older make up more than 30% of the nation’s homeless population” (Simmons University), with this number only expected to rise in future years. While the issue of high housing prices is a factor, aspects such as fixed incomes, evaporating pensions, and personal health and lifestyle problems are also very important. The financial crisis in 2008 was a large reason why many elders were forced to live on the streets, as their houses were foreclosed. Since their age, among other factors, made them unfavorable to hire compared to younger applicants, not many found jobs, making life harder. While my grandparents did not lose their home, he stated that he had friends who were forced out of their homes and had to find housing elsewhere, such as their children’s house or apartment. Though my grandparents were lucky and did not suffer with issues such as abuse, homelessness, or neglect, they are important issues that affect many families throughout the nation.

Grandparents' Approach to Money

When it comes to investing as they reached retirement, both my grandpas had different approaches to what they would do with their money. My grandpa, Mike, began investing in stocks as he began to grow his company. Although he was nearing retirement, he told me that he was never worried about saving for himself. Because his wife died at a very young age and the fact that he is a very low-maintenance person who can “stay under the umbrella”, he wanted his family to incur his saving. While he worked, he decided to funnel money into a 529 plan for his grandchildren, which is a savings account used to save up money for universities and education. He never wanted to invest in real estate or any other opportunities as his goal was for his grandchildren to not have to deal with debt coming out of college. When I asked him if he were worried about his estate, he responded that he was not, because he trusted that my parents would do all they can to provide for me and my two little brothers. To this day, I still thank him for the sacrifice that he made, not only for our country, but for our family as well.

My other grandpa, on the other hand, decided that he wanted to invest in different companies and operations in order to prepare for the future. First off, his employer at the CPA firm he worked at offered a 401(k) plan to save a piece of his paycheck for his retirement account. He, along with a business partner of his, took ownership of a construction company that mainly focused on building schools. The company began to build success and contribute to the construction of several elementary schools in the Orange County area, including schools for the blind. Once he sold his ownership in the company, he decided to put that money towards retirement. When I asked him if he was worried about financing his life at all, he paused and said “yes, Nick, because I made a big mistake that I wish I could take back”. His business partner at the time, Paul, decided to invest his earnings into municipal bonds, which generated 5% interest at time. Municipal bonds are a smart choice to plan for retirement, as they are a “good way to preserve capital while generating interest. Most of them are exempt from federal taxes, and some are tax-free at the state and local level as well” (Investopedia). On the other hand, my grandpa decided to invest his earnings into CDs, which are seen are good investments as they incur a fixed interest rate and term, yet they are not good for retirement as they can lose money in the long run. At the time of his investment, the CD held a 5% interest rate. When the Great Recession hit in 2008 because of homeowners defaulting on their loans, millions of families completely lost their savings and had their homes foreclosed. In turn, the interest rate on the CD dropped from 5% to 1%, while the rate for the municipal bond did not drop. This caused him to lose money on his investment and forced him to dip into his savings in order to provide for himself and his wife. Although he saved enough in order to survive, he stated that he was disappointed because he wishes he had more money to pass on to his children, which could have been the case if he invested in municipal bonds opposed to CDs. Like my grandpa Mike, Fred stated that he wished that part of his estate could go towards his grandchildren’s tuition or education, but it did not work out he way that he wanted. When we had to send my grandma into a nursing home, it took another massive chunk out of his estate, an issue that he said was alarming but something that he planned for. He was paying a monthly total of around $6500 on top of his own living expenses for around five months. Although some of my grandpa’s investments did not go the way he planned, he has taught me and my brother’s the importance of investing and how to learn from his mistakes.

While both of my grandparents can have different opinions on almost every category, they can agree on at least one thing: that Social Security is not enough to support the elderly. My grandpa Mike stated that too many people lean on this monthly income as their primary source, which can lead to problems later in life. He believes that “Elders should really try and wait to claim their benefits from Social Security…it will lead to more in the long run”. According to Investopedia, “The average monthly retirement benefit is $1,427…. The Social Security Administration estimates that 21% of married couples and 44% of single seniors rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income” (Investopedia). It was never meant to completely substitute a person’s income, but many people rely on it. He went on to say that Social Security is simply not enough money to live in, especially if that person does not have a pension. Ideas such as potentially returning to a job or cutting costs may be necessary in order to continue living the lifestyle that they want to. Mike said that it is the family’s responsibility and not the government’s to provide for these elders, since a good amount of them are heading into retirement with no savings. Especially with the upcoming retirement of baby boomers and the increased life expectancy, Social Security will take a massive hit. As we learned through the weekly readings, increasing the retirement age to receive benefits and increasing the tax on current workers are possible solutions to fix this issue. When I then asked Mike about if he thought that Medicare is enough, he responded that it also is not sufficient for elders. He stated that “my original Medicare does not even cover my glasses or hearing aid”. With the different parts of Medicare, not everything is covered if the right plan is not in place. Medicare can also cause an elder to pay out of pocket expenses, even “If Medicare covers a service or item, you generally must still pay your deductible, coinsurance, and copayments, unless you have a Medicare Supplement plan that covers them” (GoMedigap). Mike recommended that elders buy a Medicare Supplement policy, which takes care of expenses that a person’s Medicare would not cover, such as deductibles, copayments, as well as coinsurance. Although these Supplemental policies are very helpful for elders, they “don't cover long-term care, dental care, vision care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and private-duty nursing. Most plans do not cover prescription drugs” (WebMD).

Helping Elderly Veterans

Since both my grandpas are United States Veterans, they have always strongly believed that the government should step in and help the elderly veterans who are struggling.. My grandpa Mike stated that, “if the government isn’t going to help the Veterans who are going through a hard time, then that goes against the country’s values”. In 2019, “37,085 veterans were experiencing homelessness… while 14,345 veterans were unsheltered” (National Alliance to End Homelessness). While the veterans are looking for housing in the brutal market, many of them are facing consequences from their time in the service, which can take a real toll on anyone. Problems such as PTSD, battle injuries, and brain trauma can all be related to lack of home stability and homelessness Although there are many organizations focused on helping these veterans find housing, the government should implement facilities in every community in order to help out these struggling veterans. My grandpa went on to say that, “many of my friends in service had trouble returning to work and providing for themselves, so I think something needs to be done to help that.” These facilities could change the lives of these people who have fought for the United States, including permanent housing, substance abuse treatment, assistance finding a job, or any other services required. A way the government can help veterans seek employment is by allowing companies to inspect and examine the training and selection process that goes into choosing these candidates, which may show the determination and work ethic that these veterans have. As of now, most companies are not allowed in the base, but this could be a major step in helping these people find permanent jobs. The number of homeless veterans is neither increasing or decreasing, and something needs to be done in order to give back to those who have sacrificed so much.

My grandpa Fred, on the other hand, believes that the government should step in and help with elderly neglect and depression. He suggests that government should organize activities and programs that bring elders together. Neglect is the most common type of elderly abuse, especially in nursing homes, and can lead to drastic consequences such as depression and suicide. These issues are very common among elders, as “Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans ages 65 and older. But only 10% receive treatment for depression” (WebMD). The government can implement a program to raise awareness on this issue that plagues these seniors. Many symptoms of depression in the later years can go undiagnosed, so these people are living with a disease without relieving it. WebMD went on to state that “The suicide rate in people ages 80 to 84 is more than twice that of the general population” (WebMD). This can be a direct cause of neglect and loneliness, which many elders face as it takes a toll on their well-being. Organizations can be created to bring elders together in social environments to try and diminish this issue.

Conclusion

Throughout all of the ups and downs my grandparents have faced during their lifetimes, they have never failed to stay positive about themselves or their futures. My grandpa Fred said at the end of the interview that, “everyone thinks that getting old is a sad part of their lives, but honestly it has been one of my favorites since I get to relax all day and watch you kids grow.” He kept repeating how much he’s enjoyed going to our sports games over the years and develop into the people that we are today. He said he also found it very interesting to see how our country as a whole has changed compared to his younger days and as an adult. That as he got older, he could notice that people in the United States stand up for themselves more than they used to, something he respected. “Getting old is never an easy ride though,” my grandpa Mike stated. 

Works Cited

  1. Arthritis Foundation. 'Arthritis by the Numbers.' Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/emotional-well-being/living-with-arthritis-statistics.

  2. Healthline. 'Diabetes Statistics: Facts and Trends.' Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/statistics#prevalence.

  3. Mayo Clinic. 'Alzheimer's Disease.' Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-answers/alzheimers/faq-20057880.

  4. Stroke Center. 'Stroke Facts.' Stroke Center. https://www.strokecenter.org/patients/about-stroke/stroke-statistics/.

  5. Nursing Home Abuse Center. 'Elderly Abuse Statistics.' Nursing Home Abuse Center. https://nursinghomeabusecenter.com/elder-abuse/statistics/.

  6. Long Term Care. 'Long-Term Care Costs.' Long Term Care. https://www.longtermcarelink.net/eldercare/long_term_care_costs.htm.

  7. Simmons University. 'Homelessness Among the Elderly: How to Address This Growing Challenge.' Simmons University. https://online.simmons.edu/blog/homelessness-among-elderly/.

  8. Investopedia. 'Understanding Municipal Bonds.' Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/municipalbond.asp.

  9. GoMedigap. 'Does Medicare Cover Glasses and Hearing Aids?' GoMedigap. https://www.gomedigap.com/medicare-coverage-glasses-hearing-aids/.

  10. National Alliance to End Homelessness. 'Veterans.' National Alliance to End Homelessness. https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/who-experiences-homelessness/veterans/.

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  11. WebMD. 'Depression in the Elderly: Facts & Statistics.' WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-elderly#1.

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I Love My Grandparents: Elderly Perspectives on Money and Retirement. (2023, August 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 13, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/i-love-my-grandparents-elderly-perspectives-on-money-and-retirement/
“I Love My Grandparents: Elderly Perspectives on Money and Retirement.” GradesFixer, 31 Aug. 2023, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/i-love-my-grandparents-elderly-perspectives-on-money-and-retirement/
I Love My Grandparents: Elderly Perspectives on Money and Retirement. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/i-love-my-grandparents-elderly-perspectives-on-money-and-retirement/> [Accessed 13 Jun. 2024].
I Love My Grandparents: Elderly Perspectives on Money and Retirement [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 31 [cited 2024 Jun 13]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/i-love-my-grandparents-elderly-perspectives-on-money-and-retirement/
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