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United States of Aging Survey - Part 1

Seniors Confident in Their Future


United States of Aging Survey - Part 1

One of the infographics from the United Health / NCOA Study

National Council on Aging

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) in conjunction with United Healthcare sponsored a survey conducted by Penn Schoen Berland that included 2,250 U.S. adults aged 60 and older who shared their perspectives on their own individual readiness for aging as well as their perceptions of their community's resources for senior residents. Top line results reveal that:

  • Seniors and baby boomers expect their lives to improve as they grow older.
  • A significant minority of respondents feel less secure: about one in four report trouble with current monthly living expenses; one-third say they will not be able to afford future long-term care services; and 72% of those who make less than $30,000 per year live with a chronic health condition.
  • Perceptions of community services for older Americans vary; boomers are less confident than older respondents that their community will provide the services they need to maintain health and independence.

Financial Security

  • The majority of older Americans (64 percent) report that it is very or somewhat easy to pay their monthly living expenses now, but almost one in four (24 percent) are not confident that their income will be sufficient to continue to meet their monthly expenses over the next five to 10 years.
  • When it comes to retirement savings, almost one quarter (23 percent) of seniors are either not confident in, or do not have, a financial plan for their retirement years.
  • If an accident or unexpected medical issue were to occur, 71 percent of older Americans believe they would be able to pay associated expenses.
  • One in four Medicare recipients are not confident that they will be able to afford the costs associated with it, such as deductibles, premiums and co-pays, in future years.
  • One-third (29 percent) of respondents report they are not confident that they know about all of the government benefits for which they are eligible.
  • Of the one in five seniors who are still employed either full or part time, 69 percent report that they are working for economic reasons, but productivity (76 percent) and enjoyment (70 percent) also rank high in their list of reasons to stay in the workforce.
  • Only 28 percent of respondents believe that their community offers enough job opportunities for older Americans.


  • Half of older Americans report having someone they consider to be a caregiver in their lives.
  • Close to one-third (28 percent) of seniors say they serve as a caregiver for someone else.
  • Nearly nine in 10 (87 percent) older Americans who have a caregiver say they are receiving care from a family member. More than half of those caregivers (52 percent) live at home with their care recipient.
  • Forty-five percent of respondents who serve as a caregiver for someone else report that they would benefit from additional services to support them, such as respite care.
  • While 61 percent of these caregivers are aware that there is a service in their community that they could call to request assistance with everyday needs, only 15 percent report having utilized such services. An additional 22 percent of seniors are unsure if such services exist in their communities.

Aging in Place

  • Nine in 10 seniors intend to continue living in their current homes over the next five to 10 years.
  • Leading reasons for wanting to stay in their current homes include liking where they currently live (85 percent), having family and friends nearby (66 percent) and not wanting to deal with the hassle of moving (50 percent).
  • Finances also play a role in this decision: 26 percent of seniors planning to age in place say they cannot afford the cost of moving their belongings, and more than one in five (23 percent) believe their home would not sell in the current market.
  • The vast majority of all age groups report high levels of confidence that they will be able to stay in their homes without having to make any significant home modifications (85 percent of respondents aged 60 to 64; 82 percent of respondents aged 65 to 69; 86 percent of respondents aged 70 or older).
  • Nearly one in five baby boomers aged 60 to 64 (18 percent) believe the housing options available to them are unaffordable.

There are many implications for aging services providers and a lot is at stake. Boomers and seniors seem to be more optimistic than health statistics relay. So providers will have ample opportunities to assist this population.

Read Part 2.

About the Survey

Penn Schoen Berland conducted 2,250 telephone interviews with Americans ages 60 and older between May 10 and June 6, 2012.

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