BOSTON (CBS) – According to the National Council on Aging, more than 13 million older adults are considered economically insecure, living on less than $22,000 a year. Over 30% of older adults rely on Social Security for 90% of their income.

In addition, 6 million seniors are at risk of going hungry every day. And I see this first hand every week when I work at a food pantry, Loaves & Fishes, in Devens. We help feed many seniors who can’t make it on their Social Security check.

Women outlive men on an average of five or more years. And often as widows their standard of living changes. There is now only one Social Security check coming in. So the next subject to bring up is the money questions.

Does your mom have enough money to maintain her current lifestyle? Has time eroded her nest egg? Did dad have a pension? Did it go away when he died?

Help her do a net worth statement. What has she got and how is it owned? Then help her create a budget. Write down all of her income; Social Security, pensions, retirement plan withdrawals. Then help her figure out where she is spending her money each month. Review the bills.

Is she using the shopping channels as entertainment? Check for unopened shipping boxes in the garage. Is she making donations to charities that solicit by mail? Giving money to your brother to cover his gambling debts? Is she using her credit cards to supplement her income?

How much debt does she have? According to the Federal Reserve’s latest numbers, one third (32%) of retirees (age 65-74) still have mortgages on their primary residences!

Average household debt for those over age 65 increased 164% and bankruptcy filings have tripled in the past 10 years. Seniors make up the fastest growing segment of the population seeking bankruptcy protection.

If mom is in debt what resources does she have to reverse this situation? What is she willing to do to change the situation? Does she need to meet with a Credit Counselor?

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