Facing mounting medical expenses and insufficient savings, a growing number of seniors are falling into credit-card debt and spending their golden years in the red. Over the past decade, that’s led to a spike in bankruptcies among older Americans, according to a recent study by John Pottow, a law professor at the University of Michigan. He found that people ages 55 and over now account for more than 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States, compared with roughly 12 percent in 2001.
Losing any investment is tough. Losing funds intended for a child’s education, though, is as bad as it gets. At the height of the market’s free fall in 2008, an estimated 90 percent of the college-savings accounts known as 529 plans suffered losses, with some shedding more than 40 percent.