Retirement planning

Retirement may be years away (for some people), but it’s never too early to start saving.

There is a big wave coming as the Baby Boomer generation hits their 60s and 70s and the nation faces a retirement and assisted living surge the likes of which it has never seen before. According to the American Medical Student Association, the population of individuals over the age of 65 will increase by 73 percent over the next 20 years, meaning that one in five Americans will be a senior citizen. 

The average age in Pima County is 38.3 years old, just slightly older than the national average of 37.9 years. But Oro Valley’s population is much higher than both, with a median resident age of 52 years old. 

Many local residents need to plan how (or if) their retirement will pan out, and there are a myriad of things to keep in mind. The big question usually winds up being: stay at home or go into assisted living? But how do you afford either? Which is more convenient and which is more economical? 

“Older adults don’t necessarily want to look at housing alternatives, including assisted living or independent living,” said Adina Wingate, director of marketing at the Pima Council on Aging.

An assisted living facility is, of course, an option—although it can be a difficult option. However, for some, moving themselves or loved ones into an assisted living facility is not a choice, but a necessity due to a medical emergency.

This can only compound problems. Eventually, a retiree will need care. 

On average, an assisted living location can cost upwards of $4,000 a month, when everything is taken into account, whereas in-home care typically ranges from $3,000 to $5,000 a month, according A Place for Mom. SeniorAdviser.com puts the annual costs of an assisted living location at $43,000, and home care aid cost around $160 a day (or as much as $58,000 a year). 

“There are a lot of variables,” Wingate said, citing that 90 percent of older people want to age at home, but that a majority were concerned about whether they could. 

According to the Pima Council on Aging’s 2017 Report to the Community, “many older people fall into an economic “gap” where their incomes are too high to qualify for many means-tested public benefits, yet their income is too low to securely meet their everyday needs. The index indicates that 45 percent of older people in Arizona have annual incomes below the index amount, with 15.9 percent of older adults living below the poverty level and 29.5 percent falling into the ‘gap.’”

Luckily, there are many, many tips and tricks for being able to afford retirement, both for young and old. If you’re young, start start saving now. A 25-year-old who saves and invests $75 a month will accumulate over $100,000 more by the time they’re 65 than a 35-year-old who invests and saves $100 a month. 

And if you’re already nearing retirement age, there’s plenty to do, such as delaying your Social Security withdrawal for a few more years to get as much out of it as possible. Medical bills are one of the biggest money pits in old age, so to stay healthy and avoid doctors’ bills, experts recommend steps as simple as staying social, getting a dog, and going on hikes. 

Despite many difficulties associated with senior living, Arizona remains one of the best states to retire in. Arizona offers major tax breaks on Social Security, estates and inheritance; Tucson’s cost of living is lower than the national average; our quality of life and healthcare rank highly. All-in-all, Business Insider and AARP rate Arizona as one of the top 10 best states to retire in.  

For more information, visit the Pima Council on Aging at pcoa.org.