Lost In Translation

By Christine Huard

June 6, 2008 4 min read

SENIOR LIFE 2008

Tips for better living in the golden years

By Christine Huard

Copley News Service

LOST IN TRANSLATION

Americans are confused by the jargon used by the financial industry, according to a new survey by AARP Financial Inc., with more than half of those surveyed saying the failure to communicate had lead to an investment mistake.

Of the 1,203 adults questioned, 52 percent said their misunderstanding of complex financial language resulted in a negative outcome such as paying unexpected taxes or early withdrawal penalties. Such confusion is proving to be a costly mistake in more ways than one. The survey also found that 1 of 6 Americans has failed to enroll in a company retirement plan simply because they don't understand how it works.

When it came how the industry explains savings and investing to consumers, 67 percent of those surveyed gave grades of C, D and F. Worse still, most felt that the information gets lost in translation intentionally:

- 54 percent believe the jargon is used instead of simpler terms is to distract people from the fees they will be paying.

- 78 percent said they believe the materials financial companies produce are more about selling than educating.

- 63 percent say jargon is used is to make a product or service seem more impressive.

- 49 percent believe jargon is used is to make the consumer feel less confident about handling their own finances. (CNS)

DOING GOOD

Anyone who's done a good deed knows the good feeling that goes along with it. And now a study shows there are health benefits to helping others.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, there's a significant connection between volunteering and good health. Its study, "The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research," shows those who volunteer enjoy greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease.

"Volunteering makes the heart grow stronger," says CEO David Eisner in a corporation press release. "More than 61 million Americans volunteer to improve conditions for people in need and to unselfishly give of themselves. While the motivation is altruistic, it is gratifying to learn that their efforts are returning considerable health benefits." (CNS)

BOOMER NATION

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates some 72 million people - almost 1 in 5 Americans - will be age 65 and older by 2030. The U.S. population of that age segment is expected to double over the next 25 years.

"The social and economic implications of an aging population - and of the baby boom in particular - are likely to be profound for both individuals and society," says director Louis Kincannon on the bureau Web site.

Among the trends in the senior population cited by the bureau:

- Improved health. While chronic conditions such as heart disease and arthritis remain problems, the percentage of those with a disability fell from 26.2 percent in 1982 to 19.7 percent in 1999.

- Improved finances, though there are wide variations in income and wealth. Seniors living below the poverty line fell from 35 percent in 1959 to 10 percent in 2003. The bureau attributes this gain to the support of Social Security.

- Improved education. The proportion of Americans with at least a bachelor's degree grew five-fold from 1950 to 2003, from 3.4 percent to 17.4 percent; and by 2030, more than one-fourth of the older population is expected to have an undergraduate degree. The percentage completing high school quadrupled from 1950 to 2003, from 17 percent to 71.5 percent.

For more information, visit www.census.gov. (CNS)

? Copley News Service

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