They're either optimistic or delusional, but 89% of older adults and 84% of younger adults say they're confident they can maintain a high quality of life throughout their senior years.
The reasons vary, but support of friends and family is at the top, followed by being happy about their living situation, being well-prepared financially, being in good health and generally being optimistic, according to a phone survey of more than 2,000 adults, half of whom are 60 and older and the other half ages 18-59. The survey conducted in March is part of a joint effort by the National Council on Aging, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA TODAY.
Still, the overall survey offers cautionary tales about aging in our rapidly changing society.
"We had this little fantasy — Social Security and your pension were going to save the day and now we know it's not," says Toni Antonucci, a psychologist at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and a member of the MacArthur Research Network on Aging.
On the financial front, 45% of the older group surveyed said they wished they had saved more money; almost one-third (31%) said they wished they had made better investments.
Those worries have been echoed by others. Consider an online survey of more than 4,000 workers in April from the non-profit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Among the responses from 1,805 Baby Boomers, 47% had seen declines in investments including retirement funds; 41% expected their standard of living to decrease when they retire; and 42% said they'd seen drops in the value of their homes.
Whether there's actually enough set aside for retirement is partly up to an individual's personality, suggests Louis Primavera, co-author of the 2012 book The Retirement Maze: What You Should Know Before and After You Retire.
Holly Stein, 66, of Silver Spring, Md., says she and her husband of 44 years, Howard Stein, 67, are both career educators who were cautious about their spending. Neither participated in the survey.
"I always used to think, working in education we probably would never have earned enough money to be able to comfortably retire," she says. "But to my surprise, we did a good job of it."
Geriatrician Tom Perls, a professor at Boston University School of Medicine, says the overall confidence expressed by the 60-plus survey group bodes well for their longevity.
Although he wasn't involved in the survey, Perls, founder and director of the New England Centenarian Study (the largest such survey in the world that is now in its 20th year), says those who live to 100 aren't worry-free. Up to 40% have age-related illnesses. But, he says, "they have developed a means of coping with their illnesses in such a way they still live independently and maintain a relatively high quality of life."
Read the full article "Aging adults optimistic about what lies ahead" At USA Today.