The financial crisis, which engulfed the United States in 2008, didn't discriminate based on age. In fact, if we take into account the data that was amassed as part of a national credit card debt survey, conducted in collaboration between Demos and the AARP Institute of Public Policy, 50 and over households were shown to carry significantly more debt than those led by individuals 50 and under in 2012.
In delving further into the numbers, it's clear to see that senior credit card debt is largely associated with increased medical costs. More than a third of that same population alleges they use their credit cards to pay for everyday expenses as well.
As for this trend, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling points to the difficulty for senior to generate income to pay off their debts as one of the reasons they have a tendency to generate overwhelming debt. Other reasons for this include having to continue paying on student loans for either themselves or their children and not having saved enough in their retirement accounts to cover their basic expenses.
Increases in everyday costs of basic necessities and having carried once-manageable credit card debt while working into their retired lives, where income is finite, has made servicing that debt an effort in futility for most. Medical debt has only compounded that problem as seniors have found themselves being diagnosed with more and more medical ailments, adding to their debt.
This credit card debt, if not paid in full every month, gets interest tacked onto it. As if this weren't bad enough, health care facilities have begun transferring outstanding balances to debt collectors at increasingly faster rates. This has forced many seniors to have to turn to their adult children to help pay their bills.
If you find yourself encumbered by medical debt, there are a number of options including seeing a credit counselor, contacting your credit card company to see if they offer a forebearance of hardship program or asking your medical provider if they offer some type of payment assistance program. Additionally, you may elect to take out a reverse mortgage or simply tighten up your budget.
Alternatively, the advice and guidance of a Knoxville, Tennessee, bankruptcy attorney may help you in your legal matter as well.
Source: NerdWallet.com, "For seniors, rising credit card debt squeezes tight," Ellen Cannon, March 31, 2017