Last month, my research assistant fell on her knee, had emergency surgery and spent a few weeks in a local rehab center.

But that didn’t stop her. She promptly hopped into her wheelchair, scurried around the center and interviewed fellow patients, most in their 60s or older.

Plus, we’ve also talked to many others since.

Our opening question is simple: “How’s your retirement going money-wise?”

The answers, however, are not as simple.

One elderly woman said …

“I’m afraid I’ll run out of money before I run out of life.”

She’s not alone.

Social Security checks are grossly inadequate, and the Social Security Trust Fund itself is already about $2 trillion in the red.

Most corporate pension plans are in even worse shape.

And among Americans saving for retirement with a 401(k) plan, the average amount they’ve put away is only 4% of what they’ll probably need when they retire.

But money alone is not the only issue that impacts retirees.

There Are More Ways to Lose Money Than Picking the Wrong Investments

A not-so-old man at the rehab center told a personal story that most financial analysts would probably never dream of considering.

He had a nice nest egg.

He invested it wisely.

He knew exactly what he was doing.

So, that’s not where things turned sour. The problem arose from a serious health issue.

You see, his beloved wife of many years was the accountant of the family. She’s the one who managed all his other finances, including bank accounts, insurance policies and more.

What he didn’t realize — until it was too late — is that in recent years, his wife was suffering from creeping memory loss with no obvious symptoms.

He didn’t go into details. Suffice it to say, by the time he discovered the problem, they had lost a big portion of their nest egg.

Plus, There Are More Ways to Have a Secure Retirement Beyond Investing Success …

“What is the best thing you did in your life to enjoy a happy and secure life after you retired?” we asked.

Again, we fully expected the answers would be all about some retirement strategy or investment successes — buying Microsoft when it was selling for pennies … or holding Procter & Gamble shares in the family for generations.

But the most common theme was none of the above.

It was all about children.

As a rule, patients at the rehab center — and elsewhere — who do not have caring children, say they feel insecure and are very worried. They wonder what will happen to them if they cannot recover, if they can’t afford the needed care, or both.

In contrast, most of those who do have caring children are content and comfortable. They feel safe in every way — physically, psychologically and financially.

Plus, there was also a small minority of the folks we met who see it differently. They’re very adamant that they would never, NEVER want to accept any money or financial support from their kids or grandkids.

“My children are bossy enough without giving me money,” said one not-so-old man recovering form a mild stroke. “Imagine the pain in the butt they’d be if they paid for everything!”

In every story, however, there’s one obvious lesson that stands out.

In today’s uncertain world, preparing early for retirement is more urgent than ever.

Good luck and God bless!