More than eight out of ten people who live in the Boston area believe they will live a long life but only about one-third of Boston-area residents feel their community is very prepared to support an aging population. And while two-thirds of Boston-area residents think the quality of life for seniors is better now than in the past, there is an overall feeling of unpreparedness around Boston-area infrastructure, according to a new survey commissioned by Pfizer Inc. and Generations United, an intergenerational advocacy organization. The general feeling of lack of preparedness is seen across all generations – from Millennials to the Greatest Generation. With more than 10,000 people expected to turn 65 every day through 2030, community concerns reflected in the survey centered on inadequate transportation, housing and caregiving for older people. Only a small portion of respondents feel their communities are very equipped in terms of healthcare facilities, home caregiving, transportation, and housing for older people.
Aging well means living in a community prepared to support people as they age. But 50 percent of respondents feel Boston is not at all prepared to provide appropriate employment opportunities for an aging population and more than four out of ten feel being old is something to fear. On a more positive note, 72 percent of survey respondents believe that people who work past retirement age stay healthier longer and are happier.
“While we’ve seen many improvements in our society for aging populations in recent years, there are still many hurdles that need to be overcome,” says Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Chief Medical Officer for Pfizer. “The good news is that there is a lot we can do to protect and enhance our quality of life as we age, simply by committing today to healthy behaviors that help prevent or delay chronic disease."
Chronic diseases are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and according to the World Health Organization, eliminating three risk factors – poor diet, inactivity and smoking – would prevent 80% of heart disease and stroke, 80% of type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancers. Indicating an awareness of the importance of healthy choices, only 50 percent of Boston-area residents are very comfortable with their current physical health although 68% are generally comfortable with their current age. Fewer than half (48%) are very comfortable about their future and only about four in ten (42%) are very comfortable with getting older in general. Interestingly, more Bostonians feel comfortable telling people their age (77%) than talking about politics (44%) or religion (57%).