When we think of credit card debt, we often think the student who is swimming in credit card debt after years of paying for meals, books, and other college expenses that loans failed to cover or the middle class family who carries credit card debt while struggling to keep up with bills and other demands. Often overlooked is the demographic that actually accounts for more than 20 percent of all bankruptcy filings – the elderly. Alarmingly, the number of people 55 and over who are either drowning in credit card debt, filing bankruptcy, or suffering from poor credit is growing.
Eileen Soherty, the director of the Colorado Gerontological Society says “[senior’s are using credit] for gasoline, they’re using it for food, they’re using it for prescriptions, they’re using it for copayments.” Doherty also mentioned that in many cases, seniors are using credit cards to help their adult children with expenses.
Aside from the usual problems that come along with credit card debt such as poor credit, those over 55 who are retired often face a special set of problems. Often, without much income, seniors are often forced to keep up with credit card bills on a very fixed income.
While in a recent poll, 40 percent of American had raked up credit card debt and stated that they were not concerned about how they were going to repay it, experts predict that most seniors are actually quite different than their younger American counterparts. Kim McGrigg of Money Management International says she believes many seniors actually are very concerned about their money problem, but are too quiet and proud to discuss their issues. Credit repair experts note that when faced with credit card debt or poor credit, it’s important to seek out expert solutions including consulting with a credit repair specialist.
Doherty of Colorado Gerontological notes that seniors should try to refrain from using plastic to pay for prescriptions and copays in order to avoid debt and bankruptcy. Instead, she recommends seeking out different insurance, a medical insurance supplement, or a charitable organization to help pay for the costs. There are also many credit counseling services that are available to seniors. Seniors should check their local listings for help and remember that they can always contact credit repair specialists when in need.
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