Last Updated: January 5, 2009
The current downturn in the economy is taking its toll on the health of Americans, according to a recent AARP study. Indeed, one in five adults ages 45 and older are suffering from health problems due to financial stress and about one in six are not confident about being able to afford medical care next year, according to AARP.
When asked about 10 things they may have done because of the current economic situation:
- Slightly more than half (51%) of respondents said they have taken a generic or over-the-counter medication instead of a prescription drug;
- about one-fifth (22%) said they have delayed seeing a doctor or other medical professional; and
- 21% have cut back on other expenses in order to afford their medical care.
The survey, Impact of the Economy on Health Behaviors, also found that health problems due to financial stress are having a greater effect on individuals ages 45-64 than of those ages 65 and older. Financial stress is making a higher impact on the health of those aged 45-54 (22 percent) and 55-64 (25 percent), than on those ages 65 and older (13 percent), according to the AARP telephone survey of 820 adults ages 45 and older conducted by ICR Inc. of Media, Penn. from October 23 to October 29, 2008.
If you are among those whose health has been adversely affected by the economy, FPA member, Katherine Vessenes, JD, CFP®, RFC and president, Vestment Advisors, suggests the following: "The biggest stressor for consumers is not knowing where they stand financially. They read a lot of bad news in the paper, but it is hard to translate that into their own financial future."
Yes, the stock market is down, but how does that affect you? "For some people, who have invested in annuities or bonds, it may have little or no affect at all," said Vessenes. "Others may have set aside so much in savings that even market downturns will not change their retirement life styles. They are worrying about absolutely nothing and their health is suffering as a result."
For her part, Vessenes says the best thing you can do for your physical health is to get a financial health report. "We tell people the best thing they can do is have a professionally prepared, CFP®-quality financial plan prepared," she said. "Every person is different. They have a different emotional relationship to money, different risk tolerances and different assets."
According to Vessenes, most Americans are worried about running out of money in retirement. "A financial plan will let you know if that is a legitimate fear or an irrational one," she said. "If it is a legitimate fear, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) practitioner can suggest a number of steps that help you approach your financial future with a sense of peace. This is good for your emotions, you sleep better at night and your health should improve, too."
Another recent study conducted by FPA and sponsored by Ameriprise Financial® shows a dramatic correlation between having a financial plan and a financial planner and positive outcomes. According to the FPA and Ameriprise Financial Value of Financial Planning study:
- Nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) respondents with a comprehensive financial plan feel they have a clear financial direction, a number almost 50 percent higher than those without professional planning services;
- 82% of those with a comprehensive financial plan report having confidence in their ability to cope with the financial impact of unexpected events;
- 82% of those with a comprehensive financial plan feel prepared for their family in the event of an unexpected emergency;
- 81% of those with a comprehensive financial plan have financial peace of mind;
- More than three quarters (78%) of those with a comprehensive financial plan feel well prepared for retirement, as compared to less than half (46%) of those with no professional support;
- 74% of those with a comprehensive financial plan feel financially prepared even during these changing market conditions; and
- More than two thirds (67%) of those with a comprehensive financial plan say they save at least 8 percent of their gross income, compared to less than half (45%) of those with no professional support.
To find a financial planner that's right for you, visit FPA's PlannerSearch.