Present-day American attitudes about the elderly have been reinforced by a century's worth of media, particularly movies and television.
Growing Old in America: Nor is it quite as good. These disparities come into sharpest focus when survey respondents are asked about a series of negative benchmarks often associated with aging, such as illness, memory loss, an inability to drive, an end to sexual activity, a struggle with loneliness and depression, and difficulty paying bills.
In every instance, older adults report experiencing them at lower levels often far lower than younger adults report expecting to encounter them when they grow old.
These generation gaps in perception also extend to the most basic question of all about old age: When does it begin? Survey respondents ages 18 to 29 believe that the average person becomes old at age Middle-aged respondents put the threshold closer to 70, and respondents ages 65 and above say that the average person does not become old until turning Other potential markers of old age—such as forgetfulness, retirement, becoming sexually inactive, experiencing bladder control problems, getting gray hair, having grandchildren—are the subjects of similar perceptual gaps.
Less than half of all adults ages 30 and older agree. However, a handful of potential markers—failing health, an inability to live independently, an inability to drive, difficulty with stairs—engender agreement across all generations about the degree to which they serve as an indicator of old age.
In fact, it shows that the older people get, the younger they feel—relatively speaking. Among 18 to 29 year-olds, about half say they feel their age, while about quarter say they feel older than their age and another quarter say they feel younger.
Nearly half of all survey respondents ages 50 and older say they feel at least 10 years younger than their chronological age. Among respondents ages 65 to 74, a third say they feel 10 to 19 years younger than their age, and one-in-six say they feel at least 20 years younger than their actual age.
In sync with this upbeat way of counting their felt age, older adults also have a count-my-blessings attitude when asked to look back over the full arc of their lives.
All other age groups also tilt positive, but considerably less so, when asked to assess their lives so far against their own expectations.
The Downside of Getting Old To be sure, there are burdens that come with old age. About one-in-four adults ages 65 and older report experiencing memory loss. About one-in-five say they have a serious illness, are not sexually active, or often feel sad or depressed. About one-in-six report they are lonely or have trouble paying bills.
But when it comes to these and other potential problems related to old age, the share of younger and middle-aged adults who report expecting to encounter them is much higher than the share of older adults who report actually experiencing them.
Moreover, these problems are not equally shared by all groups of older adults. Those with low incomes are more likely than those with high incomes to face these challenges. The only exception to this pattern has to do with sexual inactivity; the likelihood of older adults reporting a problem in this realm of life is not correlated with income.
Not surprisingly, troubles associated with aging accelerate as adults advance into their 80s and beyond. It no doubt helps that adults in their late 80s are as likely as those in their 60s and 70s to say that they are experiencing many of the good things associated with aging—be it time with family, less stress, more respect or more financial security.
The Upside of Getting Old When asked about a wide range of potential benefits of old age, seven-in-ten respondents ages 65 and older say they are enjoying more time with their family.
About two-thirds cite more time for hobbies, more financial security and not having to work. About six-in-ten say they get more respect and feel less stress than when they were younger. Just over half cite more time to travel and to do volunteer work.
Of all the good things about getting old, the best by far, according to older adults, is being able to spend more time with family members. People Are Living Longer These survey findings come at a time when older adults account for record shares of the populations of the United States and most developed countries.
These ratios will put the U. Contacting Older Adults Any survey that focuses on older adults confronts one obvious methodological challenge: A small but not insignificant share of people 65 and older are either too ill or incapacitated to take part in a minute telephone survey, or they live in an institutional setting such as a nursing home where they cannot be contacted.
To mitigate this problem, the survey included interviews with more than adults whose parents are ages 65 or older. Not surprisingly, the portrait of old age they draw is somewhat more negative than the one painted by older adult respondents themselves.A closer look at spending patterns of older Americans.
By Ann C. Foster. tobacco, personal care products and services, reading, education, life and personal increased from percent in to percent in For more information, see Craig Copeland, “Debt of the Elderly and Near Elderly, ,” EBRI Notes.
As health care improves and life expectancy increases across the world, elder care will be an emerging issue. Wienclaw () suggests that with fewer working-age citizens available to provide home care and long-term assisted care to the elderly, the costs of elder care will increase.
Robert L. Kane, MD holds an endowed Chair in Long-term Care and Aging at the University of Minnesota School of Public urbanagricultureinitiative.com is an internationally recognized expert on the care of older persons.
Elderly women outnumber elderly men . Men generally have higher death rates than women at every age. As a result, elderly women outnumbered elderly men in by a ratio of 3 to 2 -- 20 million to 14 million.
This difference grew with advancing age.
At ages 65 to 69, it was only 6 to 5. However, at age 85 and over, it reached 5 to 2. Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality Middle-aged respondents put the threshold closer to 70, and respondents ages 65 and above say that the average person does not become old until turning Sections I, II and III were written by Senior Researcher Kim Parker.
Section IV was written by Research Associate Wendy Wang . A new report from the Institute of Medicine takes a closer look at end-of-life care in the U.S. The report, called "Dying in America", shines light on the quality of care .