DIEGO ó When he was growing up in Queens, N.Y., in the
1930s, Robert Raymondís family struggled with money.
He remembers vowing that he wouldnít be in the same
financial position when he got older.
had some Thanksgiving dinners with just franks and beans
on the table. I didnít say this to my parents, but I
made a promise to myself that I wouldnít live like
that ó but here we are," said Robert, now 85.
"we" are himself and his wife of 55 years,
"here" is the situation in which he swore
never to be.
so many older Americans, the Raymonds have seen their
life savings swallowed up by long-term care. It took the
couple decades to turn their modest salaries into a
$100,000 nest egg and just five years to completely
deplete it after Claire moved into an assisted living
while she is getting the care she needs ó she was
diagnosed with Parkinsonís disease 10 years ago and is
disabled and in a wheelchair ó her husband was kicked
out their apartment for being behind on the rent and had
to take temporary shelter in subsidized senior housing
in downtown San Diego.
didnít end up this way being careless, blowing all our
money at the casino," Robert said, sitting in a
small studio apartment stacked with boxes filled with
the coupleís possessions. "Iím sure Iím not
unique in my age group of people getting old and getting
fact, the Raymondsí financial downfall from
middle-class retirees to destitute seniors is all too
common. Long-term care, whether in the home, at an
assisted living community or at a nursing home, is
overwhelmingly paid out-of-pocket, from peopleís
savings. And multiple studies conducted in recent years
all come to the same conclusion: Americaís rapidly
aging population is ill-prepared to pay for whatís
to a 2014 report by the National Health Policy Forum,
based at George Washington University in Washington,
D.C., the average annual cost for nursing home care in
2012 was between $81,000 and $90,000, with assisted
living facilities averaging $42,000 a year. And
long-term care can sometimes stretch over periods of
some seniors are well-prepared financially for their
retirement years, most have limited savings and modest
resources in retirement accounts and home equity,"
a 2012 Kaiser Family Foundation study found.
top 5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and
older have retirement savings and financial assets
totaling over $1.1 million, but most have considerably
less. Median savings (retirement accounts and other
financial assets) among seniors was nearly $66,900 in
2010. One-fourth of seniors had savings of less than
$11,800. Among the 81 percent of seniors with home
equity, the average amount was just over $136,000 in
2010, but half had less than $94,000."
Warschauer, director of financial planning programs at
San Diego State University, said itís common for
people to believe theyíre well-prepared for retirement
when theyíre not.
surprising when you ask people whether theyíre
well-prepared for retirement, in fact thereís data to
show that the general answer is yes. But when you
compare that with their assets, generally their assets
arenít enough," he said.
the fact that this is common, and is going to be more
prevalent in the future, we as a society are going to
have to decide how to deal with this. Itís clearly an
issue that needs a political solution and itís not an
easy solution because itís expensive. One solution is
Medicare could start to cover to long-term care, but
Medicare is going broke already."
the Raymonds, who didnít have children, were
surrounded by money throughout their adult lives, both
working at mid-level jobs at various banks in San Diego.
They lived modestly and never accumulated significant
wealth. They rented instead of owning a home, but always
made sure to put some of their paychecks away for
retirement. With their $100,000 savings, combined
monthly Social Security of about $3,000 a month and his
$99.76 monthly pension from Great American Bank, the
Raymonds felt confident they were on solid footing.
a cascading series of illnesses befell Claire and that
solid foundation collapsed.
few weeks ago, things were looking particularly bleak
for Robert Raymond. His landlord finally ran out of
patience with being owed $4,000 in back rent and evicted
him from his apartment. His car broke down. His dentures
cracked. His missed his wife and didnít even have a
phone with which to call her. He was on the brink of
with bad luck, it rains. It pours. And then thereís an
El Nino storm.
have to deal with the hand youíre dealt, and we were
dealt a pretty rough hand," he said somberly.
bad luck doesnít always mean no luck: There have been
people extending a hand to help the Raymonds. Their
landlord, for one, knowing of their precarious finances
and fixed income, had frozen rent on their two-bedroom
apartment at $1,500 long before their ability to pay ran
out. And Claireís assisted living facility lowered her
monthly payments from $1,545 to $1,045, so her Social
Security could cover the cost.
Raymond has also been aided by Serving Seniors, a
nonprofit that annually assists 5,000 elderly San
Diegans living in poverty with services that include
meals, case management and transportation. Raymond is
living in one of Serving Seniorsí two housing
complexes. His social worker, Parwin Tahir, even took
the unusual step of creating a GoFundMe account to help
raise $15,000 to get him out of debt and stabilize his
situation. As of Friday, the appeal, which can be found
at GoFundMe.com/cf6r2zkw, had raised $4,560.
like Robertís are what Serving Seniors addresses every
day," said Elizabeth Berg, the organizationís
director of communications and development. "Most
of our seniors did not ever think they would end up in
Raymond certainly didnít think heíd end up poor
again. Today, he thinks back to the vow he made all
those years ago and how it was never far from his mind.
when he worked at Great American, heíd leave his
downtown office and walk to catch the bus to his
neighborhood, passing by homeless people hunkering down
for the night.
think to myself, ĎIím going home to a warm
apartment.í And today Iím still grateful Iím not
in that situation."