What scares you the most when you think about retirement? The Transamerica Center for Retirement Services has been asking that question for 22 years. The Center just released its 2022 survey after talking to more than 5,800 adults contemplating their future. Here are the top 12 retirement fears this year.
#12 Can’t Retire on My Own Terms
13% of respondents are afraid someone else will decide when they retire, which can impact a person’s retirement plan. One possible reason is age discrimination. A joint study by ProPublica and the Urban Institute says 56% of workers age 50 and older will be let go against their wishes and only 10% will find another job that paid as much as the job they left.
#11 Finding Meaningful Ways to Spend time
20% of those surveyed are afraid they won’t have enough to do to be happy. I’ve had many clients who have gone back to work or get satisfaction through volunteering. As it turns out, most retirees I know say, “I’m so busy now, I don’t know how I had time to work.”
#10 Affordable Housing
22% of the survey are afraid they won’t be able to afford a place to live. With the housing boom of the last few years, house prices are exorbitant, and even if a person sells their house for a substantial amount, they have to turn around and buy something else that costs a king’s ransom. And even if a house is paid for, will the retiree be able to afford the taxes and upkeep on their home? Will they have to sell, and if so, what can they afford to buy or rent?
#9 Access to Adequate, Affordable Health Care
This is the first of several answers in the survey where people are concerned about their health during retirement. 24% think they may not be able to afford quality health care.
#8 Feeling Isolated and Alone
26% of people in the survey are afraid they’ll end up alone. It’s understandable. In this 21st century society of ours, kids leave home and find jobs in other parts of the country. Often the kids are too far away to take care of mom and dad if they need help.
For some, the cost of assisted living or a retirement community is much too high to be an option and a retiree ends up alone in their home with very little outside contact.
For some, failing health makes it almost impossible to get out and socialize and they feel confined with no way out.
And, as a person ages, their friends die and reduce what was once a group of people who watched out for each other. Again, the elderly find themselves alone.
#7 Loss of Independence
Even more than feeling alone, this year’s respondents are even more afraid of losing their independence. 27% say they hate the thought of being dependent on someone. It can be as simple as not being able to drive anymore and needing someone to take them to the grocery store or the doctor, all the way up to needing round-the-clock care.
#6 Cognitive Decline
This is a scary one for 29% of the people in the survey. Over the last 40 years, we’ve seen explosive growth in the number of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s and if you haven’t had someone in your family with cognitive disease, you probably know someone who has. Many people have seen the severe effect on the person who has cognitive decline as well as their family and the ones who have to care for them.
#4 Not Being Able to Meet My Family’s Basic Financial Needs (tie)
The next two categories are tied in terms of fear factor. 30% of people are afraid they won’t be able to take care of their family after they retire. It’s a legitimate concern, especially for retirees on a fixed income. Even basic inflation can destroy the best-laid retirement plans; even more so in inflationary periods like we’re currently experiencing.
#4 Long-Term Care Costs (tie)
30% of people surveyed are afraid they’ll need long-term care and they’re not sure they’ll be able to pay for it. Genworth, one of the largest providers of long-term care insurance estimates that 7 out of 10 people turning 65 years old will need some type of long-term care. The cost of that care varies based on the care setting, geographic location of care, and the level of care required. But no matter how you look at it, long-term care is expensive. The median annual cost of long-term care in 2021:
- In-Home Care Homemaker Services $ 59,484
- Home Health Aide $ 61,776
- Adult Day Health Care $ 20,280
- Assisted Living Facility $ 54,000
- Nursing Facility (semi-private room) $ 94,896
- Nursing Facility (private room) $108,408
#3 Outliving Your Money
35% of people are afraid of running out of money. According to a survey by ConsumerAffairs.com, here is the average retirement savings amount by generation:
Gen X $184,861
Millennials $ 90,648
Gen Z $ 35,570
However, that’s for Americans with retirement savings. The PWC Retirement in America report says that 1 in 4 American workers, 25%, have no retirement savings at all.
And the top 2 retirement fears are tied for number 1.
#1 Social Security Reduction or Elimination (tie)
36% of respondents are afraid Social Security won’t provide what it’s promised. In the 2022 report, the Social Security Board of Trustees projects that the Social Security fund will run out of money in 2035. After decades of doing nothing, there is currently some discussion in Congress about dealing with the problem. Lawmakers are considering raising Full Retirement Age from 67 to 70, removing the cap and charging Social Security tax on all earned income, and a 20% reduction in the amount of benefits paid,
#1 Declining Health that Requires Long-Term Care (tie)
And equally important to folks in the survey is the fear that declining health will require long-term care. 36% are afraid they won’t be able to maintain their health, pushing them into the cloudy and costly world of long-term care.
Some of this year’s greatest retirement fears have similar themes. In fact, more than two-thirds of the biggest worries deal with health and money. Are there things that may stave off these fears? It may require more stringent savings plans, working much longer than anticipated to maintain health insurance and a longer period of contributing to Social Security, and being involved in more activities that challenge the brain in hopes of eliminating or reducing the possibility of cognitive decline.