Communities Unprepared for Aging Population: NCOA Report

Communities are largely unprepared for the wave of aging Americans that will require services and amenities associated with aging, according to a recent national survey, with a third of those surveyed reporting their communities are not up to par with their rising needs. 

Most seniors (71%) agree their community is currently “supportive” to the needs of seniors, according to the 2013 United States of Aging Survey, conducted by the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare, and USA Today. 

However, a third of people aged 60 and older report don’t believe the community is prepared to meet future needs of the growing senior population. That opinion gets stronger among those aged 18-49, as 45% don’t believe communities will be equipped to meet seniors’ needs.

Only 15% of 60+ seniors and 22% of older seniors reported difficulty with activities of daily living. In contrast, 76% of seniors in general said performing regular independent living activities was “not at all difficult” while 61% of older seniors said the same.

That may contribute to why Americans aged 60 and older are more likely to be concerned about the sufficiency of their finances rather than a deterioration in health, the survey found. 

Six in ten seniors believe their health will stay the same in the next 5-10 years, the survey said. Another 13% think their health will improve, while less than a quarter (23%) predict their health will worsen during that timeframe. 

While seniors believed their health wouldn’t change much in the upcoming decade, many aren’t doing anything to manage existing conditions or maintain good health. 

Nearly two in ten (18%) seniors reported having five or more chronic health conditions, while 65% reported having two or more. However, more than half (51%) haven’t set any specific goals to manage health in the past year, while 43% have taken no steps toward preventing falls. 

More than half of respondents (53%) say they are concerned about whether their savings and income will be sufficient to last them for the rest of their lives, while another 33% were not concerned.

Among retired seniors, 43% relied on Social Security as their primary source of retirement income. More than four in ten (41%) of non retired seniors planned to rely on Social Security in retirement. 

Despite future fears, most respondents reported no difficulty in affording current expenses. 

For 66% of respondents, it’s “easy” to pay monthly living expenses, and only 18% reported the need to reduce regular spending in 2012 in order to pay a monthly regular bill.

However, nearly two in ten (19%) said it was “difficult” to afford monthly living expenses, based on current income and savings. 

View the executive summary report from The United States of Aging Survey.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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