Seniors Are Generally Upbeat About Aging

According to an article in USA Today, “Life is good for most of the nation’s seniors, according to a recent poll of 2,250 older adults. Whether they move to “active adult” communities [….]or grow old in the homes where they raised their children, they say they are pretty darn content.”

With all the horror stories that we read with regard to aging, we might assume this to be a surprising finding.  According to William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution as quoted in the USA Today article, in part this is due to the fact that:

“People in retirement have dodged a bullet.  They’ve gotten to the promised land in time to avoid all the bad stuff.”

Again quoting the article:

This generation of retirees, including the oldest Baby Boomers, who turn 66 this year, are more likely to enjoy the fruits of their life-long labors than future retirees, Frey says. They stopped working before employers pulled the plug on pension plans, before companies stopped matching contributions to 401(k)s and before Social Security and Medicare finances hit the crisis stage.

According to Frey, he feels that as the economic environment changes, seniors will start to feel the hardship of aging more acutely.  Presently, the oldest Americans are the wealthiest with people over 75 having a median net worth of $218,800.

With the advances in medical care, individuals are living longer.  In 1940, when Social Security was first formed, less than 60% of the population lived to see 65 years.  Those born post 1960 have an 80% chance of reaching age 65. That is a big difference!

This generation of aging individuals is probably the most active and therefore potentially the healthiest, which might add to longer life.  Many continue to work, either out of necessity or to remain active and connected.

Although this silver lining report for the silver haired sounds promising, Frey did also put forth the cautionary note that as the economic climate changes, so will the outlook/circumstances of the aging population.  In other words, as we move away from being the wealthiest nation in the world, the free and easy life of older years may become less so.  Until then, let’s enjoy!

© Yvonne Behrens 2012