Making the Country Better for Seniors

Making the Country Better for Seniors

If you followed the presidential campaign, you saw #MAGA (Make America Great Again) by the GOP, and #BetterTogether by the Dems. Social media turns content and news into a hashtag parade of tweets and follows.

If I start a social media campaign to make cities and states become a better place for older adults, what should I call it? At first, I thought #AgingMatters, and a friend suggested #BetterThanBingo. The entire premise is to get city and state officials to consider what the older voters want. Sometimes it feels like we're left behind, especially on important topics like transportation, health care, affordable housing, etc. Do you feel that way?

If you're 55 or 60 and older, do you feel ignored and what you want doesn't matter? And your needs and desires have little value to government officials and business leaders? That's how I feel too, and I want to do something about it by starting a hashtag campaign to promote healthy aging and lifestyles - but I'm at a loss for what to call it!

The campaign comes about after hearing the worries, fears, and hardships that individuals have and talk about on Facebook. The issues are challenging and require collective answers and solutions, from officials AND citizens. We're in this together, and since the aging population explodes, we need answers and need them fast because it feels like we're on a sinking ship.

City and state officials hold the key to solving aging in place worries. That's why I plan to ask members at the state senate and congress, and even city officials on how they can help us make cities better for seniors. Here are the issues we live with:

  • Affordable housing
  • Transportation options
  • Socialization and healthy lifestyles
  • Financial support
  • Healthcare
     

The compressed list illustrates the matters that adults need to age in place, and most of us want to live at home. Besides, senior housing like independent and assisted living, and nursing homes, come with a hefty price tag. But what gets in the way of healthy "aging in place" are the exact issues above. Being a senior citizen, here are a few questions I'll take to the government chambers.

  • Housing - what are city planners doing to make housing accessible and affordable?
  • Transportation - seniors need to get around, what are city officials doing about it?
  • Financial - what type of jobs do you offer seniors? What opportunities do you hope to create that focus on seniors working?
  • Social activities - what social endeavors, organizations, etc. are available for seniors to help deal with isolation, and become more involved?
  • Healthcare - what health care assistance do you offer that will help people get the care they need?
     

Soon the campaign will launch - What should I call it?

Carol Marak
Aging
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Carol Marak earned a Fundamentals of Gerontology Certificate from the USC Davis School of Gerontology and advocates on behalf of older adults and family caregivers. She simpli ... Click for full bio

What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?

What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?

We’re in an era of extremes. It seems a day doesn’t go by without the word “historical” popping up in the financial news.

The equities market and consumer debt are at historical highs. Interest rates and high-yield credit spreads are at historical lows. We haven’t seen even a 5% pull-back in the market this year—for the first time since 1995—and the DJIA is exhibiting its narrowest trading range in history. These are indeed historical times. And whether this fact has you filled with extreme optimism or extreme pessimism, you have some important decisions to make going forward.

There are theories about how we landed in this particular era of extremes, and most are rooted in the significant changes that have impacted both how we live and how we invest. At the top of the list are globalization, automation, and the largest aging population in history (yet another “historical” to add to the list). It’s said that the most dangerous words in investing are, “it’s different this time,” yet one has to wonder if, in fact, it really is different this time. Not just because of the historical market highs. After all, there always has been and always will be a new market high waiting around the corner. What’s different today is the sheer number and confluence of these extreme highs and lows—and their duration. It’s a situation no investor has experienced before, which can make these waters feel pretty daunting. History repeats itself, and investment strategies are largely built on that conviction. But what do we do when it doesn’t? When history fails to repeat itself, how can investors plan for tomorrow with confidence that they are positioned to protect their assets and gain a reasonable level of yield?

The first step is to recognize that, at least in many ways, the investment landscape really is different this time around. All you have to do is look at the numbers to be sure of that fact. And the catalysts I mentioned before—globalization, automation, and the aging population—aren’t going anywhere. If anything, the impact of each will only grow as time moves on. What that means is that there’s no way to predict what’s coming next. The only thing we know for certain is that predictability is a thing of the past (if it ever really existed at all). The result: you need to approach your portfolio differently than you ever have before.

Your goal, of course, is to find return given a risk tolerance. Current yield is an important part of total return and getting it is an elusive proposition in today’s market. If, like many people, you’re less than confident that the four major sectors that currently drive the equities market—healthcare, discretionary, tech, and financial—are poised to continue to rise at even close to recent rates, it may be wise to seek out alternatives to help drive yield without adding more risk to the equation.

But if alternatives are the wise path forward, which alternatives are the best options?

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Business Development Companies (BDCs), and energy stocks, traditionally the favored “non-correlated alternatives,” defied expectations when the stock market crashed in 2008, inconveniently revealing high correlations just as the equities market began its freefall. Anyone who was invested in these alternatives at the time knows all too well the devastating impact “non-correlated investments” can have on a portfolio, especially when they fail to do their job when it matters most.

Luckily, there is one alternative that can be counted on to remain uncorrelated to the traditional financial markets and, ultimately, deliver that precious yield: life insurance-based investments. And because this asset is literally built on one of the irreversible catalysts of change, the aging Baby Boomer population, owning life insurance may in fact be the ideal alternative to help investors generate non-correlated returns, regardless of where the market turns next. Even better, these investments typically deliver those returns with very low volatility.

Related: 3 Reasons Alternative Investments May Be Your New Key to Success in Changing Times

What makes life insurance different is that, unlike typical alternative vehicles, secondary life insurance returns aren’t based on the economy. Instead, they are inherently non-correlated because returns are based solely on the longevity of the individual insureds.

As much as we would all love for the bull market to continue on its merry way, one thing history does tell us even today is that a bear market will come. It’s only a matter of when. As you strive to hedge your portfolios and prepare for the inevitable, life insurance-based investments are one tool that can help you achieve the three things you need most: diversification, low volatility, and yield.

Bill Acheson
Investing in Life
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Bill Acheson is the Chief Financial Officer of GWG Holdings, Inc. Mr. Acheson has over 25 years of sophisticated financial services expertise. Mr. Acheson has extensive experi ... Click for full bio