What the meltdown means to me, a boomer with grown children

My husband has a great job in a stable industry, but he's 63. Two years ago, we thought by this year he'd be officially retired -- doing a little consulting, but taking the winter off so we could spend the cold months somewhere warm. I have a home-based business that has always offered flexibility. Together, we were looking forward to a more leisurely life.

The economic slowdown has made us rethink our plans. My husband continues to work at his old job -- usually 50 or 60 hours a week -- and I'm not slowing down either because we and those who depend on us need what we earn.

We're not alone in this. A survey conducted for AARP found that nearly 20 percent of the people in our age group have postponed retirement. In most ways we're lucky. Overall, 66 percent of people older than 55 are having trouble paying for essential items such as food, gas and medicine. Fortunately, we don't have those troubles.

But we do worry about our grown children who have found this tough economy a drag on independence. Our two oldest children are economically solid citizens. They got their careers off the ground before the economy soured. But our younger ones face bigger challenges.Our youngest son graduated from college in May with a degree in computer science. He's had a hard time finding a job. He wants to stay in Pittsburgh, which makes it more difficult. We're paying many of his bills until he lands.

The 25-year-old graduated from college three years ago with a degree in music. He works for a production company in New Orleans. The money's not so great, but he plays in a hot band and gets by. He's considering buying a duplex, but needs cash from us to seal the deal. The good part about this is the State of Louisiana will give him $4,000 toward a down payment, and the federal government will kick in $7,500 in tax credits after he closes on the house. A boon for him -- and indirectly -- for us.

Our 28-year-old is still bumping around, works in restaurant kitchens and may find himself someday. In the meantime, we buy his health insurance. He had cancer four years ago and we want him to be insured no matter how expensive.

We also kick in with other family members on efforts to keep my husband's mentally handicapped sister afloat. The State of Florida, where she lives, just kicked her off the Medicaid roles in a purge to save money. She's five years away from Medicare, and we're not sure what we're going to do. It's unlikely any company will sell her health insurance.

We're not complaining. We're blessed to be able to help. And my husband likes what he does. His decision to keep working may be a blessing in disguise: Rocking on the porch really isn't his style.

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