Chamblee, GA, February 15, 2017 – by Guest Columnist, Carol Marak – Seniors in the United States often compare city and state data when evaluating places to retire. While society has distorted views and misconceptions about older adults wanting to relax and take it easy after retiring, that’s very far from the truth.
The majority (84 percent) of people age 65 and older receive Social Security income. “We still see that Social Security is the foundation of retirement income,” says Gary Koenig, Director of Economic Security at AARP’s Public Policy Institute. Social Security provides more than a third of income for retirees which is hardly enough to survive, since the average retirement benefit for January 2016 was $1,341.
So what do seniors look for when evaluating places to live? They need jobs, a way to get to work, and affordable housing.
Using the U.S. Census survey and other government data collated by Seniorcare.com, here’s how Doraville and Chamblee meets the needs of older residents.
In Doraville, the average Social Security income is $14,674, and the median household income is $ 34,205. In Chamblee, the average Social Security income is $15,851 and median household income is $28,859. The income is hardly enough since 29% of the older residents’ home mortgage consumes 35% of their budget.
So, having a job helps people live a meaningful lifestyle, and continuing to work after retirement is a preference seniors’ embrace. The Harris poll found 54 percent of workers (age 60+) say they will work part or full-time after retirement. There are more college graduates in Doraville, but Chamblee has more seniors who work.
But what’s troubling when studying the towns’ data, both have quite a few older residents living alone. In Doraville, 29 percent of the 65 and over, are alone, and in Chamblee it’s 33 percent. That’s quite a few people living at risk of isolation which is the major symptom for developing chronic illnesses.
Research examining loneliness identified functional, psychosocial, and physiologic ill effects, including:
Diminished physical activity.
Diminished motor function.
Symptoms of depression.
Disrupted sleep and daytime dysfunction.
Impaired mental and cognitive function.
Isolation is detrimental to health and not the way people want to live. Here’s what few aging alone adults say about the predicament — it’ll give you a clear picture of the challenges.
“Still work full-time. Pay is median income so I barely make ends meet. Like many, I fear isolation when I retire but already plan to volunteer at neighborhood elementary school to help kids learn to read. My biggest fear is being alone and my future health needs, very worried about cuts in Medicare and Social Security.”
“I live in a rural area, although there is a town 18 miles away and a city 25 miles away, so I can find activities one place or the other. The complete lack of public transportation is a serious concern–if you can’t drive, you can’t go to the grocery store! I like living alone, with cats, but I also like doing things with friends. I do worry what would happen if I became incapacitated.”
“Most of my real friends moved to be with children and grandchildren. I have also moved several times. I have had health problems for over 20 years and one of those is chronic fatigue. It takes all my energy to keep up with the basics.”
Check out all cities in Georgia to measure how Doraville and Chamblee compare.
– Carol Marak, aging alone advocate, syndicated columnist, and editor at Seniorcare.com. She earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.