It's all well and good to talk about keeping older people from falling over the cliff into poverty, but if you don't put some railings along the edge, it isn't going to help much.
We've recently erected a couple of new railings. The first, our state-by-state guide to public benefits, explains where to go to get the help that's needed. It may sound like a simple proposition, but even though there are just 50 states, there must be 5,000 ways of offering public help.
See also: Helping older workers get jobs.
Another new railing is AARP Foundation Finances 50+. Our income impact team and the Charles Schwab Foundation designed this program specifically for the 20 million people age 50-plus in the United States who are living on the financial edge, unable to get their prescriptions refilled and put food on the table. Finances 50+ is a three-part program to get struggling older people back on the road to financial stability, and this road may eventually become a superhighway. Here's why:
First, very few financial education programs are specifically directed to meeting the unique needs of low-income older people and their families. And many older adults who have been handling their money for decades don't need (or want) more financial knowledge. Instead, they need to get a better understanding of how the financial choices they make and the actions they take can help them achieve their goals. This is the fundamental difference between traditional financial education and our new program: Financial education is about what you know, and financial capability is about what you do. Finances 50+ is rooted in the philosophy that everyone, with the appropriate education, motivation and support, can change their financial stability for the better.
Second, we're teaming with seven carefully vetted nonprofits to pilot Finances 50+, ranging from El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission in Austin, Texas, to the Banner Olive Branch Senior Center in Phoenix and the Greater Washington Urban League in Washington, D.C. (The other four cities are Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans and San Francisco.) We're working side by side with these organizations so we can reach more people and make resources go further. They are just as invested in the success of Finances 50+ as we are.
Third, by working with the Charles Schwab Foundation on this program, we took advantage of all our organizational strengths. Both of us are dedicated to building financial capability for underserved older people. In addition, the Charles Schwab Foundation focuses on funding and promoting financial education, while AARP Foundation brings a deep knowledge of the 50-plus population and an active volunteer base.