Senior Citizen Financial Concerns

Aug 9th, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Finances

Financial Concerns Cause Senior Citizen Anxiety

The headlines this morning reflect the alarm on the part of investors regarding economy issues in the United States.  A 600 point sell-off yesterday (August 8, 2011) means the value of senior citizens’ portfolios plunged.  So what’s to do about the anxiety?

Anxiety is a bug-a-boo that has the potential to seriously interfere with daily life.  Sometimes it has no basis or cause in reality.  That is, one can be anxious about some perceived issue or problem that is not real.  And one can be anxious about problems and issues based in reality, like stock markets plunging 648 points in one day.

Tips for Managing Anxiety

Managing anxiety isn’t easy, but it can be done.  That doesn’t mean the cause of anxiety goes away; it just means we don’t allow anxiety to interfere with our daily lives.  Here are some tips:

  1. Contact your trusted financial adviser to determine exactly what the reality is regarding your portfolio/investments/savings.  Information is power.  Get information so you know precisely what your financial picture looks like.
  2. Once you have the picture, determine what steps (if any) you need to take to make your investments as secure as possible.  Talk with your trusted adviser again.  Talk with friends to find out what they are doing.  Remember, we’re all in this pot of stew together.
  3. Take those steps (if any) only after you are comfortable with whatever changes you’re considering.  Many of us seniors won’t be making any changes, because our original position was to have investments/savings as secure as possible.  But it never hurts to take a second look and ask questions.
  4. Take emotional comfort in knowing you have done all you can do to secure your financial future.
  5. Then go to work on your anxiety.  How is it manifest in your daily life? Usual symptoms include trouble sleeping, inability to concentrate, brooding/worrying about your situation, changes in eating habits, hibernating so you can brood or focusing with others solely on your concerns.  Substitute these behaviors with productive action that combats anxiety successfully.
  6. Productive Action includes slow deep breathing exercises, a physical exercise program that involves your entire body, spending time with friends and family with the agreement not to talk about your anxiety, reminding yourself you are as financially safe as you can be (put a sticky-note on the wall with that message so you can see it every day).  Research shows that physical exercise and activity is the best and healthiest antidote for anxiety.
  7. If these actions are not effective, and your anxiety is interfering with daily life (see #5 above) it may be necessary to contact your primary care physician and talk about medication to control your anxiety.  SCJ recommends this only as a last resort due to the side effects of most anxiety medications.

Take heart, senior friends… we’re all in this together and we will pull through.  We’ve been here before and we survived with the help of dear friends and family.  We can do it again.

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