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Survey: US Not Prepared for Growing Senior Population


March 22, 2017

Adults living in the United States feel that the country is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to health care for seniors, according to the results of a national survey on aging (NORC at the University of Chicago and West Health Institute; March 22, 2017).

With nearly 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 years old each day, it is important for primary care providers—and other health care providers who care for elderly patients—to understand and address this rapidly growing population’s health care needs.

To better understand the hopes, fears, and perceptions of aging during each decade of life after age 30, the researchers conducted online and phone interviews with 3026 adults aged 30 years or older using the AmeriSpeak Panel at NORC. The age groups assessed included 30 to 39 years, 40 to 49 years, 50 to 59 years, 60 to 69 years, and 70 years or older.

Among the findings of the survey were:

  • Losing one’s memory (72%), developing health problems (71%), and not having financial security (71%) were the top 3 worries for respondents.
  • The majority of respondents (70%) do not think the country is prepared for the rapid growth of its senior population.
  • When it comes to meeting the health care and social service needs of seniors, 59% of respondents believe the country is heading in the wrong direction.
  • Generally, respondents are optimistic about aging, with an increase among the age groups (46% of those 30-39 years old vs 66% of those 70+ years old).

“The survey is a wake-up call for Americans of all ages to translate their hopes and concerns about aging into action,” said Shelley Lyford, president and CEO of West Health. “We need to better support seniors of today and tomorrow so they can age in a place of their choosing. It will take a new approach and attitude toward aging, and these findings suggest people seem ready to embrace the need for change and will make the investment in our future.”

The survey, “Survey on Aging in America,” was conducted by researchers at West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago, the results of which were presented at the American Society of Aging 2017 Aging in American Conference in Chicago, Illinois.

—Amanda Balbi

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