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Recession Survivors: Where Are They Now?

7 older Americans make a comeback — but barely

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Patsy Parker retired at age 75 despite worries that her  income may not last

— Photo by Joshua Kessler

Patsy Parker, 75, Helena, Ala.

  • 'I miss the ballroom'
  • At 77, Alabama woman retires and learns to live on a lot less

Patsy Parker retired two years ago at 75, despite losing about a third of her retirement savings to the stock market collapse. She was a travel agent and considered retiring for quite a few years before she got up the nerve to turn out the office lights for good.

"I went ahead and bit the bullet, and with what I had in my IRA, my financial adviser said I could guarantee to live on a certain amount for 10 years. I asked, what happens if I live longer? [But] at age 75, I had worked long enough."

She collects Social Security and refinanced her mortgage to get lower payments. After her bills are paid, Parker says she has $500 a month left over.

"If I had more income, I'd go to more senior dances," she says. "I miss the ballroom. But I don't feel like I have to go without."

Midwest couple, 56 and 60, Minnesota

  • The old place — theirs again
  • Ending a long stay with a daughter, a couple moves home

A couple from the Midwest, featured in an article two years ago after financial woes led them to move in with their daughter, didn't want their names to be published now. But they say they recently moved back into their former home. Their adult son lived there while they stayed with their daughter, their laid-off son-in-law and their granddaughter about 130 miles away in St. Paul.

The two say they lost about half their retirement savings in the stock market downturn and used the rest of that money to pay debt.

"We had to start over," says the wife, 56. Her husband, a nurse, is 60.

"My husband wants to retire but it's not looking great at this point," she says. "In order for us to retire, we'll have to downsize. We don't have a lot of equity — the value of our home has gone down dramatically. We'll work as long as possible."

Next: Frank Wilkinson, works long and hard into his 90's. >>

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