Health and finance among top concerns for over-50s

Older grey-haired couple signing and filling in documents together at home

Google searches reveal that health and financial concerns are among the most people for those aged over-50, says Peter Sharkey. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

“This time last ye…..” A slow, reflective pause halted my flow before the realisation hit me. “Oh, no. It was 2019. Where did last year go?”

My wife and I were sat enjoying a drink in the kitchen last Saturday night (it’s all very rock n’ roll, chez Sharkey) when I was about to recall a hugely enjoyable visit to France we made in January 2020 before remembering that it actually took place the year before.

‘A senior moment’ was how my smiling better half described this temporary display of forgetfulness which I instantly sought to remedy by taking another gulp of red wine...

If, like me, you’re over 50, you’ve probably experienced similar episodes of absent-mindedness, an early reminder, perhaps, that we’re getting a little older.

Turning 50 was supposed to be a good time to start letting your hair down: when you signed up to learn ballroom dancing, a musical instrument or a new language. For many, that first novel was another post-50 ambition; others planned to join a choir, take up ballet or taken some flying lessons. As I recall, becoming forgetful wasn’t on the list.

Yet if you don’t start adding a fresh dimension to life upon reaching your half century, other, less attractive, matters inevitably start contending for your attention.


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A quick Google search emphasises this point. Type in ‘main concerns for over-50s’ and within milliseconds, 582 million links will explain in lurid detail the long list of potential health and financial challenges we face.

Apart from accelerated weight gain and a greater propensity to contract flu, our joints begin to show signs of wear and tear; we experience sleep problems and on top of this, we start to lose height.

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Then there’s the financial challenges. Making poor financial decisions in your 50s and 60s can be difficult to rectify, yet a surprising number of folks take on additional debts, while thinking you’ll never grow old or sick could mean that you fail to plan for longer-term care costs.

Very few of us believe that our cognitive ability will gradually diminish, yet scientific research shows that on average, our brain power peaks at the age of 53, potentially bad news if you’re planning to manage your money and other assets well into old age.

Worrying, isn’t it?

Yet it’s also true that thinking and acting like you’re already old will only accelerate the onset of old age, like some self-fulfilling prophesy.

As someone who falls squarely into the baby boomer cohort, ie born between 1948-64, I was recently asked what I believed my fellow boomers want from life. “To have no regrets,” I replied.

Granted, financial challenges will persist for as long as we let them, but turning 50 also presents us with an opportunity to get them out of the way before they overwhelm us.

For example, instead of taking on more debt, why not save the money you would have spent repaying your loan and build up a useful lump sum?

woman hand putting money coin into piggy for saving money wealth and financial concept

According to finance expert Peter Sharkey, and despite miserable returns, saving £150 a month at 1% interest would grow to almost £19,000 within 10 years. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Alternatively, you could choose to delay retirement; aside from the additional earnings a delay would deliver, work keeps us young and mentally sharp, while mixing with workmates has a beneficial social value. Around a third of people who defer retirement, usually cutting back to a two- or three-day week, do so to support their children, usually giving them a leg-up onto the property ladder. Others garner immense satisfaction by committing to help elderly parents, both physically and financially.

Baby boomers may come in for plenty of woke-inspired flak, but it’s not by chance that they’re labelled ‘the generous generation’.

In my experience, most Boomers don’t believe their best days are behind them, an attitude closely linked to longer life expectancy, which presents multiple opportunities, ideally over many future, non-pandemic years, to address our ambitions and gradually tick off bucket list-inspired objectives.

If you’re over 50, please email me...

This is a fascinating area of what might be called social finance. As we age, our financial requirements remain a fact of life, but it becomes increasingly apparent that we don’t need millions of pounds to fulfil our objectives. Or perhaps it’s the other way around and we amend our goals to take account of our financial situation.

If, therefore, you’re over 50, please mail me to let me know what your goals are: They could be travel (two-thirds of Boomers place a desire to travel at the top of their list); helping your children; assisting elderly parents; learning a new skill, such as singing, acting or learning a musical instrument; writing a novel or getting fit.

Whatever your goals, please tell me what they are by emailing: peter@moneymapp.com.

THE WEEK IN NUMBERS

Since last March, we’ve grown used to being presented lists of depressing daily statistics relating to you-know-what. We felt it was time to show the week in some more heartening numbers…

  • 5,700: This year’s online version of the Consumer Electronics Show, which normally takes place in Las Vegas, introduced consumers to a Japanese manufactured ‘smart lavatory’ (yes, really) which can monitor people’s “mental and physical status” while they’re on the loo. The Toto Wellness Lavatory is yours for a rock-bottom £5,700.
  • 150-300 minutes: According to researchers at Oxford University, people who undertake between 150-300 minutes’ of ‘moderate to vigorous exercise’ a week reduce the risk of contracting heart disease by between 48% and 57%. How’s your new year resolution going?
  • £72 billion: During the 2016-17 financial year, the UK’s financial services industry paid a record of £72 billion in in total taxes. More than £17 billion of this was paid by foreign banks.
  • £900: Had they had a row? In total lockdown Canada, a couple were fined £900 each after they were stopped by police and the woman claimed to be “walking her dog”. True, she had her husband on a dog lead, but the police believed it was a ploy to circumvent lockdown rules which permit walking the dog.

ONLINE

Investing for the near future

Read Peter Sharkey’s blog exclusively at www.moneymapp.com/blog

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