Forty-one percent of seniors that have yet to retire will rely on Social Security as their primary source of income in retirement. The troubling finding, which could be attributed to decimated nest eggs as a result of the financial crisis, was released today as were other results from the United States of Aging Survey.
For this year’s survey, the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today surveyed 4,000 adults across the country. The survey included a sample of adults 60 and older as well as a sample of adults 18-59 in order to illuminate dissimilarities between the generations and examine how best to prepare the country for the droves of baby boomers approaching retirement.
Notably, over half of all seniors surveyed reported they are “somewhat” to “very concerned” that their life savings and retirement income will not be sufficient due to longer life expectancy. Longevity risk is rapidly becoming a widely-used term in the lexicon of financial planners, sociologists and seniors alike. As seniors live longer, their savings get whittled down and they may increasingly rely on Social Security as a result.
Even with the prospect of outliving their money, most seniors feel that they will be able to meet their monthly expenses (66 percent) and many expressed excitement and optimism about living a longer life. Being able to watch their grandchildren grow into adulthood, spend time with family and friends and seize an opportunity to use the time to do the things they enjoy were all events they reported looking forward to. And, in order to do all of those things, seniors feel they may need some added assistance from the community.
Most seniors (71 percent) reported that their community was responsive to their needs but interestingly enough, 49 percent indicated that their city or town was not doing enough to prepare for the wave of boomers approaching retirement. Public transportation, job opportunities, and the availability of low-income housing and affordable health care were all areas where respondents noted needed improvement.
A conspicuously optimistic group, seniors surveyed reported connectedness as a virtue they regard very highly. Over half of seniors surveyed reported that being close to friends and family is very important to them. Technology plays a crucial role in maintaining these relationships, as 84 percent of seniors cited technology as a very important tool that keeps them connected with the world around them. Obviously, low income seniors reported barriers to technology use while 48 percent of respondents reported they have trouble understanding technology.
Although seniors reported connectedness as an important component to their lives, there was a significant minority (15 percent), who report occasional feelings of isolation. These seniors express less optimism about their future health and their overall quality of life. Thirty-two percent of isolated seniors reported that they believe their health will get worse, compared to just 23 percent of all seniors.
Connectivity—and the negative outlook seniors who feel isolated have—has a direct correlation with their future and the ageing process. Eighty-six percent of senior respondents said they expect a high quality of life in the next five to ten years, while 60 percent expect their health to stay the same. The survey found African Americans and women were the most optimistic about ageing. Seniors who are focused on taking care of their health were also more optimistic about ageing.