Seniors face challenges during crisis

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, October 14, 2008

When Andy Martincak retired, he invested all of his 401K in his company’s stock. Now, he is left paying the price.

“When I retired with my 401K, I left it all in AT&T stock,” Martincak said. “I don’t know what it is today, but the last time I looked, it was only at half.”

Though Martincak is still receiving income from social security, he said he was counting on a certain amount from his retirement this year.

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“I was counting on $4,000, but it’s probably going to be less,” Martincak said. “I count on it to pay my taxes every year.”

And, on a fixed income, Martincak said while he doesn’t have a hard time living simply, the rising prices of everything else just makes living a little harder to do.

“It’s kind of different when your source of income just changes,” Martincak said.

Like Martincak, other senior citizens are dealing with the same issues — having to do less with the same amount — in the midst of a suffering economy.

“We’re not going to family reunions, not traveling with the football team and not eating out as much,” said Margaret Stewart. “I’m worried for the future.”

Janet Motes, director of the Colley Senior Complex, said the economic struggles are a big topic of conversation at the senior center every day.

“For the longest time, it was the prices of gas,” Motes said. “Now it’s different. Now it’s a much more serious conversation for them.”

Whether they have fixed social security income, private company retirement funds or investments, Motes said it’s taking a toll everyone.

“We see people with different backgrounds, and it pretty much affects all of them,” Motes said.

And for these senior citizens, Motes said the economy’s downfall is going to hit their age group the hardest.

“For seniors, I think it’s a little more difficult because they are not able to get back into the workforce or change the way they live,” Motes said.

But while it may not be as easy for a lot of senior citizens, others said the economic crisis hasn’t had a big impact on their finances, at least not yet.

“It may be bad down the road,” said Muriel Middleton, of Troy.

Others just said the economic downturn is a problem, they hope, will alleviate itself before it strikes too hard.

“I’m not worried because I think it’s a little bump,” said Judy Baxter, of Troy. “I think it’s going to correct itself.”