After spending all their lives working tirelessly, the elderly still face the challenge of being at a greater risk, and the causes of elderly poverty. The failure of many nations to include programs of the elderly into their national and developmental agendas have posed elderly at a very high risk of poverty. In many cases, the able-bodied individuals who can give financial assistance to their elderly parents fail to achieve their goals of providing for their parents as a result of economic difficulties they undergo. Elderly poverty has a number of causes. Such causes include; the dynamic economy, too much generosity on the side of the elderly, old age sicknesses, being targeted by criminals and scammers, improper planning, spending much on housing, debts, loss a of spouse among many more.
Old age sicknesses
As an individual advances in age, he or she gets affected by old age sicknesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, hypertension among other sicknesses. Such sicknesses strain the elderly economically as the healthcare bills may add up. The elderly may also face the challenges of frequent falls which may result to long term health conditions. Whenever such people are sick, all the economic resources are used in treating them. This in turn strains them economically because the money they might have set aside as their savings to be used in future is used in their treatment.
In order to curb these old age sicknesses, the elderly should focus on leading healthy lives so that they don’t get attacked with long-term health problems like diabetes or high blood pressure. They should also keep off from fall-related injuries which can in turn cause mobility problems at old age.
Loss of a spouse
The elderly, especially widows play very important roles in the family and in the community at large. While children as well as all the other members of the extended family become their primary caregivers, the elderly widows also offer some help to the other members of the family as well as the extended family as midwives, advisers, doctors (when it comes to prescribing the traditional medicines/herbs) and teachers to their children while their parents are away. Most of the duties are taken care of by the elderly in the African traditional setting. As the elderly advance in age, they are well respected and held in high esteem by the rest of the family members and relatives. They enjoy a high status position in the family. The younger generation looked up to them when it comes to seeking pieces of advice from them on some important matters.
However, as the world becomes modern, the inter generational relationships mentioned tend to change. Nowadays the elderly, especially the widows are presently among the most susceptible and downgraded group in most rural areas. Unlike in the olden days, they are now challenged with a multiple dangers of being old, poor, widowed and alone. In some cases the custom and tradition used to protect them in the past are of late used to oppress and exploit them as many of the elderly people are now being accused of wizardry deeds. It is therefore significant to connect the poverty experienced by the elderly, especially the widows to discrimination in inheritance custom. For instance, in most rural communities, “chasing off” and “property grabbing” are common feature of widowhood as a widow’s husband’s brothers are materialistic and dishonest as they deny the elderly widows of their homes, agricultural land and property. Hence, the death of a husband means a greater loss of income and property that the departed spouse received or owned. The World Bank’s report of 2001 affirms that majority of elderly widows struggle alone to make ends meet on a meager income. Being older therefore, infers that they are more likely to be in poor health and be more vulnerable to poverty.
Losing one’s spouse may affect an individual’s income leading to poverty. Some individuals living together as husband and wife may be earning from their pensions, whereby each individual is sure of getting some money at the end of the month. On the other hand, it may be only one spouse earning the pension money. When such an individual dies, the other spouse remaining behind faces economic constraints. The source of income lowers and there may be a lot of challenges rendering the remaining spouse hopeless.
Many of the elderly always save during their days of work so that when they retire they are able to use the money they had already saved. As such, these people always start their retirement with some money alongside the pension some of them get. However, they are always at a greater risk of losing their money to criminals and scammers. These scammers and criminals always target the elderly because they know too well that they can easily draw money from them. The elderly are not always much informed about online safety. As such they may be tricked by scammers to give out their bank details including their account numbers, passwords and Pins. The moment they disclose such details to these criminals, all their savings are withdrawn from their bank accounts leaving them with nothing at all. This in turn makes them poor with totally nothing to rely on.
The elderly are often faced by a challenge of not being in a position to pay house rent. This is due to the fact that as people advance in age, their ability to depend on themselves lowers. For instance, when an individual was used to paying his or her house rent by himself or herself using his or her own money, as the age advances, such an individual retires from work and can no longer earn. This makes it really hard for this person to be in a position to maintain paying such things as rent.
At times the elderly lack people to help them and are forced to move to homes where the aged live. In such cases, they are sometimes forced to sell their property in order to be able to pay for their stay in the homes of the aged. This leaves them without anything hence they remain in poverty.
Increased homelessness among the aged has largely contributed to poverty and the decreasing availability of inexpensive housing among certain sections of the aging. All over the country, there are always at least nine elderly individuals waiting for every occupied piece of affordable elderly housing. In most families/homes with very low incomes, homes headed by an elderly individual have close to a one in three chance of having the nastiest case needs, in spite of the fact that housing aid has always been directed towards elderly persons.
During one’s lifetime, it is not strange for debts to get accumulated. It is something very normal. As one gets older, the debts seem to accumulate. When an individual’s age advances, it reaches a point where he or she cannot work and earn because of the advancement in age. As a result, the debts remain unpaid. Even when an individual saves something for the future, the money saved may be sued to pay debts leaving the individual with nothing. This in turn leads to poverty.
Having debts is closely associated with poverty and considered as one of the major causes of poverty, especially among the elderly. Its effects can be so extreme. In the most countries in the world, many families earning low income always spend above forty percent of their total income in settling the debts they owe other people. Many studies that have been carried out have demonstrated that these high levels of debt affects such people’s capability to make rational decisions which include such decisions as financial decisions, this in turn causes them to focus more on short-term income instead of focusing more on long-term gains, among other effects. As such, poverty itself can contribute to some behavioral changes which can greatly promote severe poverty in one’s future.
Improper planning is one of the causes of poverty among the elderly. Some individuals fail to plan well for their future when they are able-bodied and in a position to make money. Some people may not focus on their future and spend the money they get during their lifetime carelessly. When such individuals retire, they remain with totally nothing to depend on. They lead miserable lives not knowing where to face. Hence, improper planning can be considered as one of the causes of elderly poverty.
The ever changing economy is one of the causes of poverty among the elderly. An individual might have planned and saved for his or her future considering the economy. However, the person might get disappointed after he or she has stopped working and is depending on his or her savings. No one can ever predict anything about the economy, it changes time by time. So for those individuals who always plan as per the economy always face challenges by encountering hard economic times. The economy may rise so high thereby exceeding the amount an individual had planned with. When the economy rises when a person depends solely on his or her savings, a lot of money may be spent just in sustaining the individual. As a result, the individual may use everything in his or her account thereby remaining with nothing to depend on. This causes poverty among most elderly people.
Lack of government support
In many countries, the government’s support to the elderly is very minimal. There is lack of comprehensive social security system. This increases vulnerability of the elderly to poverty. The elderly are faced a lot with the challenges of old age poverty. This is due to the fact that the aged population is projected to rapid increase and many of these people depend on state-based financial assistance.
Education is of great importance and has received much emphasis. The higher the level of an individual’s education, the higher the individual’s socio-economic status whether young or old. Such an individual has very low chances of getting affected by poverty. These are the resilient bases of one’s health and one’s quality of life in old age. In many countries in the world, the prevalence of poverty among the elderly is not based solely on an individual’s income. Rather, it depends on such aspects as health, education and labor market opportunities. As a consequence, poverty is seen as being a multidimensional matter. The policies of most of the world’s countries have been labeled as productivity in terms of placing emphasis on education and issues like public health since the issue of housing is likely to be at a greater risk of requiring social and economic safety net during old age. Being a widow is termed as one of the causative events considering the adverse effects on the financial well-being of the elderly. There is a substantial loss of pension privileges among women who had children and experienced marital disturbances. Marital disturbances may also have adverse or rather more serious consequences and connectedness in old age.
Lack of social support
In some countries where the government provides considerable transmissions to the elderly people through social security and health care, some other countries, for instance African countries are trying to emphasize family support-networks. In some countries, families and close relatives provide most financial support to their elderly family members and relatives. The government in most cases has taken advantage of this and has failed to prepare or pass over laws or any measures in order to provide the elderly with pension money. With the modernization, pressure and gaps amongst generations tend to reduce the elderly roles in most societies. This in turn leads to less responsibility for the fresher generations to support those individuals whose ages have advanced. As a result, the preparation for appropriate pension schemes citizens is evident. Secondly there is the lack of family support. Finally, the elderly do not save enough money to be able to support themselves during their later lives.
In conclusion, advancing in age grants a very substantial and additional risk of being poor. In later life, people tend to reduce their working hours or completely stop going to work because of the retirement options given or as a result of health issues, and in any case they need or prefer to continue with their work, many may end up earning lower salaries. In many countries in the world, the inexistence of social protection systems with high coverage and adequate benefits, the elderly possessions and savings are always not adequate to secure sufficient income security until the end of their lives. This makes the elderly, particularly susceptible to economic insecurity hence poverty, with very minimal options to escape.