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Kathy Silverberg on Aging: Is the Future Really Optimistic?

A survey conducted recently by the National Council on Aging, United Healthcare and USA Today found considerable optimism about the future among Americans 60 and older. But is that optimism misplaced?

The survey found that three in four Americans between the ages of 60 and 69 believe their quality of life will stay the same or get better over the next five to10 years. Some 25 percent of those between 60 and 64 say their health is better than normal and 75 percent of them believe they will stay as healthy or even improve their health over the next five to 10 years. Even two-thirds of those 70 and older expressed the same optimism.

And though 82 percent of those surveyed indicated they would be able to do what is necessary to maintain their health over the next decade, only 52 percent said they exercise at least four days a week. Another 11 percent said they are never physically active.

When it comes to finances, most seniors feel confident they will be able to keep up with their expectations. Some 90 percent want to stay in their current home for at least the next decade and almost that many, 85 percent, feel they will be able to do so without making significant modifications.

But there is another reality creeping into the thought processes of seniors. Nearly a quarter of the respondents said they sometimes have trouble meeting their monthly expenses and one in five said a single financial setback could put them in a crisis situation. Of those in the low and moderate income brackets, nearly half expressed a lack of confidence that they will be able to keep up with regular expenses over the next five to 10 years and nearly a third of all respondents said they are financially unprepared for long-term care.

The survey also found that despite their apparent optimism, seniors are concerned that their communities lack the services necessary to support them as they age. Cited as a particular concern was the lack of safe, reliable transportation.

In light of these findings, it would be interesting to know how seniors in Southwest Florida feel about their future. Limits on public transportation and an apparent lack of awareness of available services would seem to contribute to a perception of scarce resources. How that will play out over the next few years is a big question mark.

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PRIME TIMES offers a lively mix of news and information for persons 50+, including the latest in activities and programs at Senior Centers and neighborhood sites. It’s published monthly in Sarasota in partnership with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

 

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