Retirees in debt because of healthcare costs - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Retirees in debt because of healthcare costs

January 24, 2007

Albany -- For some senior citizens it's impossible to pay all their bills on a fixed income. Retirement should be a time to enjoy life without worrying about finances, but soaring healthcare costs and pension cutbacks leave many seniors dealing with debt.

For anyone who thinks retired life at home is easy, Dorothy Jones says think again. She feels like she's drowning in debt on her fixed income.

"It's hard. And then see I'm a widow, live by myself, and I have my house utility bills and things. It's not easy," said Dorothy Jones.

Not easy going through stacks of monthly bills. And as a breast cancer survivor now in remission, she adds at least $500 in monthly medical costs.

"Healthcare, that's the thing right there there healthcare," said Jones.

It makes paying her bills nearly impossible. Jones can barely afford food some months, but she gets help, at least one free meal a day is provided by the Sowega Council on Aging.

At the Council on Aging there are many programs that help retire cut costs, such as a free senior center, or even a lifelong planner who helps them make financial decisions.

"They talk to them about things they should consider before you retire, and how much of your income is necessary in order for you to keep the same lifestyle," said Council on Aging Director Kay Hind.

Director Kay Hind says as healthcare and the cost of living increases each year, many retirees must budget an amount of money that stays the same, and that's one reason the council steps in to help seniors.

Help for some seniors as much of their money goes toward a mountain of bills.

"A lot of times I just can't afford everything that I want, it gets hard," said Jones.

For some, retirement is hard to plan for because it's hard to predict. Jones says she'll keep struggling through despite unexpected bills that drain her money.

The Council on Aging offers several other free programs that help seniors with their financial, physical, and mental well-being.

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