OK. So now pretty much everyone is in agreement that the housing market is in good, and improving, shape. But does that mean it’s back to where it was before the recession? Yes and no. From a purely financial perspective, we are pretty much back there. But if you dig into the details, things start to look a little different. First, new homes being built are bigger (2,200 sq ft., vs. 1,800 sq. ft. for most of the aughts). Second, buyers are getting older, with the new median age for homebuyers having steadily increased to 43.
The bad news? Americans aren’t reading as much 28% of Americans claim not to have read a single book in the last year, a figure up from 21% as recently as 2011. But the good news is, that while readership does tend to decline with age, senior citizens have managed to stay marginally ahead of the 50-64 year-old age group, with 69% of you having read at least one book in the last 12 months. The article also links to the original Pew survey, for those who want to dig into the details.
This blog has carried a couple of posts recently on some unusual activities in which the elderly are engaging around the world, but this one may take the cake. In fact, it’s not so much something that is a trend, with lots of the elderly engaging in it, but I do have to give this one particular full props. Nonagenarian Edith Traina took up the sport of power lifting at the age of 91. It will be truly exciting if she hits her goal: lifting 90kg for her 100th birthday! Tell the truth, don’t you fell just a little lazy now?
Following up on yesterday’s post about the lack of a Social Security COLA (cost of living adjustment) in 2016, today the Huffington Post brings us a slightly more in-depth analysis. The article brings in the stances of a number of political figures (Clinton, Sanders, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), and goes on from there to look at CPI-E, an alternative index for calculating the COLA which, while still experimental, is at least endorsed by the AARP.
Reuters reported earlier today that the Social Security Administration has announced no Cost of Living Adjustment in 2016. It’s not an arbitrary decision — COLAs are regulated, and only occur if prices increase. And, as it happens, inflation has been close enough to flat that no adjustment can be made. Whether that matters to you, specifically, will depend quite a bit on your lifestyle. A large part of the reason for flat inflation is the falling price of gasoline. If you drive a lot, you might feel like you’re doing better anyhow, but if you don’t, the lack of a COLA may feel like a pay cut.
Previously this blog reported on NASAA’s model state legislation, proposed last month. Yesterday, the Financial Regulatory Authority (FINRA) weighed in. With 25% of complaints involving seniors, and 10,000 baby boomers retiring per day, it’s not surprising. But the specific proposals (requiring appointment of a “trusted” person who can make financial decisions if the client’s judgment becomes impaired on all new accounts; the ability for firms to freeze transfers if they suspect “odd activity”) may not go down so well with all clients. The formal proposal will be open for comment “later this week or early next week”.
A few weeks ago, we reported the increase in the rate of falls amongst the elderly, and, at the time, there was some speculation that the increase in falling was due to the increase in activity — which was really a mixed bag, in terms of potential outcomes. Clearly, being active is important for the elderly, so the fact that it might also have negative impacts was a little saddening. Fortunately, new research is out. It turns out, particularly amongst the elderly, the most common reason for falling is infection. So, see your doctor regularly, and keep active!
Charles “Doc” Anderson is a State Representative in Texas. He recently wrote an opinion piece in the Waco Tribune which calls out some unique “penalties” in the tax code associated with the elderly. He correctly calls out that not only are seniors typically paying at a higher tax rate than the wealthiest Americans, but also that there are other, less obvious penalties — for example, after the death of a spouse, lowering deductions and personal exemptions. As a senior, this is definitely worth considering in terms of the upcoming election cycle.
We’ve written before about phone scams, particularly those targeting the elderly. But this particular scam is both big, and close to home. They’re not, infamously, asking you to send money to Nigeria; instead, they’re coming out of Jamaica — praying on seniors for $1,500 a pop to a grand total of over $300 million per year. This CNN video and article claim that the callers have prayed upon the same people so many times, that they may have even driven one senior to suicide. If you have relatives with dementia or Alzheimer’s, take extra care.
Veronica Hackethal, MD, reports for Medscape on a recent study published in “Blood”. Brentuximab vedotin, currently approved for other uses, has just exited a phase 2 study for use as a first-line option against Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The results look good, and that’s important for a lot of elderly with the cancer. The reason is, the regimen is very well tolerated amongst the elderly, much more so than standard chemotherapy. Because the drug is already on the market, it may be available for immediate use; so if you or an elderly loved one suffer from the disease, ask your doctor about it.