Relationships with friends and family outweigh financial concerns among older Americans seeking fulfillment in their senior years, according to the second annual United States of Aging Survey. When asked what is most important to maintaining a high quality of life in their senior years, staying connected to friends and family was the top choice of 4 in 10 seniors, ahead of having financial means (30 percent).
For the 2013 edition of The United States of Aging Survey, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), UnitedHealthcare and USA TODAY surveyed 4,000 U.S. adults including a nationally representative sample of seniors ages 60 and older. This year, for the first time, the survey also included a nationally representative sample of adults ages 18-59 to provide contrasting perspectives on aging and explore how the country could better prepare for a booming senior population.
The results of the 2013 survey are being released today at the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) 38th Annual Conference in Louisville, Ky., as part of a broader effort led by n4a, NCOA, UnitedHealthcare and USA TODAY to educate seniors and stakeholders in communities across the country and support further awareness and understanding of senior perspectives on aging.
“The United States of Aging Survey shows us that seniors are an optimistic group,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. “By learning more about seniors’ priorities, successes and unmet needs, we hope to identify
the services, programs and infrastructure that may best support older adults so that future generations of seniors can have this same sense of optimism as they age.”
The importance of connectivity
The survey finds that seniors are driven by a desire for connectedness. More than half of seniors (53 percent) nationally indicate that being close to friends and family is important and only 15 percent report occasional feelings of isolation. Eighty-four percent of seniors nationally cite technology as important to their ability to connect with the world around them.
Seniors who report experiencing feelings of isolation and depression express less optimism regarding their future health and quality of life compared with seniors nationally: 37 percent of isolated seniors believe their overall quality of life will get worse in the next five to 10 years (compared with 24 percent of all seniors), and 32 percent of isolated seniors believe their health will get worse, compared with 23 percent of all seniors.