Study: America's Seniors More Proactive About Health, View Assisted Living as Likely Option
America’s seniors are becoming more proactive in improving their health and while they intend to continue living in their current home, most would turn to assisted living communities if they were no longer able to care for themselves, according to a new extensive study out from the National Council on Aging.
United States of Aging
Download the United States of Aging executive summary report.
Exercise Improves Outlook on Life
Thirty-seven percent of the more than 3,000 seniors age 60 and over interviewed for the United States of Aging survey said they exercise for 30 minutes or more daily compared to 26 percent in 2013. Those seniors who exercise are much more likely than those who never exercise to say the past year of life has been better rather than worse, 28 percent versus 15 percent. Fifty-eight percent of senior women are more likely to have set health goals than senior men, 48 percent.
Exercising seems to influence seniors’ outlook on life – 38 percent of seniors who have set one of more health goals in the past year believe their overall quality of life will improve in the next five to 10 years while only 16 percent of those who have not set health goals think their lives will improve. Senior men are most likely to get encouragement to stay healthy from their spouse while senior women are most likely to rely on themselves.
The Assisted Living Option
While a whopping 77 percent said they intend to continue living in their current homes for the rest of their lives, 48 percent said they move would into an assisted living community, 40 percent would look to receive help from community programs and 36 percent would move in with a family member or friend. Sixty-one percent of those interviewed said they would rely on their families the most for support in senior years.
Social isolation also affects seniors – 30 percent of socially isolated seniors expect their quality of life to worsen over the next decade while 51 percent of socially isolated seniors didn’t set a health goal in the past year.
Financial Security or Faith and Spirituality
When it comes to finances, seniors report an easier time paying monthly bills than last year (69 percent versus 66 percent), but still express concern about their long-term financial situation. Approximately 49 percent said they are very concerned that their savings and income will be sufficient to last the remainder of their lives. However, 25 percent of seniors said it was faith or spirituality that is the most important key to keeping a positive outlook on life, while 5 percent said being financially secure.
Is the Community Doing Enough?
Compared with seniors, younger adults are not as likely to say their community is doing enough to prepare for their needs. Fifty-four percent of seniors feel their community is doing enough compared to 49 percent last year, but 43 percent of adults ages 18-59 say the same thing.
About 40 percent of seniors predict they will need community support with home maintenance, yet only 22 percent feel that their community helps meet this need for local seniors. Thirty-nine percent believe they will need community support with transportation and 59 percent feel that their community offers adequate support in this area.
A Look at Cleveland, Dallas and Newark
The study also drilled down into the cities of Cleveland, Dallas and Newark, N.J. to look at seniors there, finding that seniors in those areas are not as optimistic as seniors nationally when it comes to their general outlook, health and finances.
Seniors living in Cleveland are more likely to intend to age in place and prefer living along than seniors nationally. Dallas’ seniors are more likely to prefer living along and are less likely to say their community is prepared to meet the needs of seniors than seniors nationally. Newark’s seniors are less likely to intend to age in place and find it more difficult to live alone than seniors nationally.
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