| Mon, Aug 13, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Inaugural United States of Aging Survey Finds Seniors Are Upbeat About Aging

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

US of Aging Town Hall   Jayson and Shalala 2 resized 600Every day for the next decade, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65. With 77 million people in their ranks, boomers will bring tremendous growth to our senior population.

All these new seniors mean that our communities need to think differently about a host of issues, including housing, transportation, social services, cultural offerings, and health and wellness programs, to ensure they’re prepared to meet the needs of their senior residents. In short, our growing senior population is prompting many Americans to ask: Are we as individuals and communities ready for an aging population?

In an effort to answer that question, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), UnitedHealthcare and USA TODAY created The United States of Aging Survey. In its inaugural year, the survey included 2,250 U.S. adults aged 60 and older who answered questions about their individual readiness for aging as well as their perceptions of their community’s ability to meet their needs as they age.

The survey found that most older adults are optimistic about what the future holds, but not all are prepared for the health and financial challenges of aging.

Here’s a sampling of the most interesting survey findings:

  • Seniors are upbeat about aging. The survey found that more than three in four seniors ages 60 to 69 expect their quality of life to stay the same or get better over the next five to 10 years.
  • More than eight in 10 seniors agree with the statement, “I have a strong sense of purpose and passion about my life and my future.”
  • Half of older Americans believe their community helps them lead a happy and healthy life. Nearly as many – 42 percent – say their community has no bearing on their health and happiness.
  • The vast majority of older Americans give themselves high marks when it comes to maintaining their mental health: 92 percent report that they manage their stress levels well.
  • The percentage of older adults who exercise or are physically active most days of the week is sharply lower – just over half of respondents (52 percent) say they’re physically active at least four days a week.
  • While many American seniors are on good financial ground today, they have mixed feelings about their future prospects. The majority of older Americans (64 percent) report that it’s very or somewhat easy to pay their monthly living expenses now, but almost one in four are not confident that their income will be sufficient to continue to meet their monthly expenses over the next five to 10 years.
  • Nine in 10 older Americans want to “age in place,” or stay in their home or current living situation in the years ahead. Their top reasons for wanting to stay put? They like where they currently live (85 percent), have family and friends nearby (66 percent) and don’t want to deal with the hassle of moving (50 percent). Finances also play a role in this decision: 26 percent of seniors planning to age in place say they cannot afford the cost of moving their belongings, and more than one in five (23 percent) believe their home would not sell in the current market.
  • More than half of seniors strongly agree they feel safe walking in their communities, yet close to 60 percent never walk to places they regularly need to go.

Have you given thought to your own preparedness for aging? All older adults should create a plan to help them attain the lifestyle they desire in their retirement years. To get inspired to start your healthy, happy aging plan today, check out the full survey findings at www.NCOA.org/UnitedStatesofAging, or visit the newsroom at www.UnitedHealthGroup.com.