Thursday, August 31, 2006

How many of your landlords are women?...

There is an interesting problem faced by many women, especially those who are widowed or divorced. Often a fear of becoming destitute grips them, regardless of the actual circumstances. Called "bag lady syndrome" it can afflict even well-to-do, educated women, causing anxiety and even depression.
Bag-lady syndrome plagues, puzzles and, in more extreme cases, paralyzes women who want to get a better grip on their financial lives, according to Olivia Mellan, the author of “The Advisor's Guide to Money Psychology” and a Washington, D.C., therapist who specializes in money psychology. Lily Tomlin, Gloria Steinem, Shirley MacLaine and Katie Couric all admit to having a bag lady in their anxiety closet.
When I read about this problem, it helped me understand some of the experiences I have had with elderly female landowners - even some of my relatives. Since men are not prone to this particular fear (we have our own monsters under the bed) it wouldn't be a bad idea to be more aware of how these anxieties might be affecting those women we care about or deal with.

Women often marry older men and usually live longer than men. Consequently, they tend to end up controlling a considerable portion of the nation's assets. Land is no exception. These trends show no sign of stopping, and the emergence of Alzheimer's as a major late-in-life threat (especially for women) could mean this type of anxiety could become more common, as women struggle to prepare for that sad possibility both emotionally and financially.

Facing up to reality and the numbers seems to be one way of combatting this fear. I think another is to keep some strong relationships alive with succeeding generations, whether family or not.

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