Financial difficulties can befall individuals of any age or economic class. The sudden loss of a job, the onset of an unexpected medical condition, or other major life events can throw an individual into financial despair. These individuals may struggle to get by, sometimes going to extraordinary measures to avoid bankruptcy, even though bankruptcy may be able to provide them with the debt relief they need.

Many older Americans are turning to bankruptcy for help. In fact, the number of individuals age 65 and older who are filing for bankruptcy has tripled since 1991. Although some of these filings can be attributed to the fact that many Americans are living longer and simply running out of money, there are other, more prevalent factors at play. Perhaps the biggest factor is medical costs. Although most senior citizens can rely on Medicaid to a certain extent, medical care has become so expensive that even government assistance isn’t enough to stay afloat.

There are other contributing factors, too. Many pensions have been replaced with 401(k)s and other retirement funds, which may not provide the same kind of financial stability that is afforded by a pension. Dwindling incomes, both over time and as one ages, have had an effect, too. Many Baby Boomers also find themselves saddled with debt after taking out student loans for their children.

Regardless of why an individual has landed in financial trouble, they deserve a second chance. That is exactly what bankruptcy offers. Those who successfully pursue a bankruptcy petition can often shed themselves of debt and secure a fresh financial start. Therefore, those considering bankruptcy, whether through a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 petition, should think about consulting with a legal professional to determine the best way forward.