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Why are more seniors overwhelmed by credit card debt?

Credit card debt is not simply a problem for young or even middle-age people. Increasingly, seniors are carrying large amounts of credit card debt. Moreover, they have challenges for paying it off that younger people may not, particularly if they're already retired.

The amount of credit card debt held by those over 50 has increased for a number of reasons. Seniors often pay medical bills using their credit cards. Medical debt and credit card debt can easily go hand-in-hand for older people who tend to have more medical bills -- particularly if they aren't yet eligible for Medicaid.

Many seniors have supported adult children and grandchildren for a time, only to find that this support has drained their savings. They turn to credit cards to pay for basic living expenses. These add up quickly, and if the card balance isn't paid in full each month, so does the interest.

Student loan debt increasingly follows people into their senior years. Some seniors are still paying off their own student loans and their children's student loans as well. As their savings becomes depleted, they too turn to credit cards to help pay for necessities.

It may be possible to decrease your credit card and medical debt and protect your credit score by working out payment plans with providers. It's easier to deal directly with providers than debt collectors.

A debt counselor or financial advisor can also provide guidance to help you get your debt under control. You can probably find an advisor or organization in your area that specializes in helping seniors with debt.

Bankruptcy is becoming an increasingly-common option for seniors in debt. As people are living longer, many are finding that their retirement savings isn't lasting as long as they are. For some, bankruptcy is the best choice. If you're considering bankruptcy to provide debt relief, a New Jersey bankruptcy attorney can provide guidance.

Source: USA Today, "For seniors, rising credit card debt squeezes tight," Ellen Cannon, NerdWallet, April 09, 2017

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