Growing Old - Concerns
Some of the biggest concerns people have about growing old are declining mental and physical health, running out of money, losing a loved one, losing independence, having to move to a nursing home, and losing their looks.
Surveys/Studies on Aging Concerns
TD Ameritrade/The Harris Poll
- The Harris Poll, in partnership with TD Ameritrade, surveyed 2,002 Americans aged 18+ in mid-2018. The survey asked about how long people expected to live, the positive aspects of aging, retirement, and concerns about aging.
- The top two concerns respondents had about aging, at 58% each, were losing mental function and losing physical function.
- Other concerns were losing loved ones (46%), healthcare costs (43%), being unable to meet financial needs (35%), dying (26%), being isolated (20%), and losing looks (15%).
- Wealthy Retirement conducted a survey of their readers in 2018 to find out what they were most scared of as they age.
- The biggest fear for 38.4% of respondents was "having Alzheimer's, dementia, or other age-related illness."
- Close behind, at 31.8%, was running out of money.
- Being put in a nursing home was the biggest fear for 13.6% of respondents, looking or feeling old was the biggest concern for 11.8%, and 4.4% feared to get cancer the most.
Home Instead Senior Care Network
- The Home Instead Senior Care network commissioned a study that determined the top fears of seniors.
- According to the results, the top five fears were loss of independence, declining health, running out of money, having to leave their home, and the death of a spouse or other family member.
- The next five fears were being unable to care for themselves day-to-day, losing the ability to drive, being isolated or lonely, being cared for by strangers, and falling or getting hurt.
American Association of Independent Investors
- The American Association of Independent Investors surveyed their readers on their biggest fear about aging. Over 2,000 people responded to the survey, with about 97% (9.4% + 30.5% + 57.3% = 97.2%) of respondents being age 50 or older.
- Being in poor health was the biggest fear for 32.4% of respondents; 20.7% feared to lose their memory the most; 20.5% chose to lose their independence; 12.4% chose not having financial security as their biggest fear; 9.1% fear being a burden on their family; and 4.9% chose to have to move to a nursing home.
Biggest Aging Concerns
Using the results from the four surveys/studies we found, we compiled a list of the biggest concerns based on what was mentioned most often in the studies. In no particular order, some of the biggest concerns people have about growing old are:
- Declining mental and physical health is a concern because people are afraid they will no longer be able to do the things they enjoy. Additionally, people are afraid that declining health will lead to being cared for by strangers.
- People fear to lose a loved one, such as a spouse because they fear losing relationships. It can be more difficult for older adults to make new friends, so losing the companionship of a loved one can be a big worry for elderly people.
- Running out of money is a fear for both men and women, but since women tend to outlive men, this fear is more prevalent with women. This fear stems from worry about what will happen to them if they do run out of money and fear that they will become a burden on loved ones.
- People fear losing their independence as they age. This is because they believe they may no longer be able to do things such as care for themselves on a day-to-day basis and drive. If this happens, not only will they not be able to do things they love, but they may become a burden on others.
- Having to leave their home and/or move to a nursing home is another big fear people have about aging. Being in the place they have lived for so long feels safe and is full of memories. The thought of not being able to continue in that space is stressful for many people.
- Although it was not mentioned as often, or by as many people, a significant percentage of people stated that losing their looks was a big fear of aging. Fifteen percent of people in one survey and 11.8% in another chose this as their biggest concern. An informal discussion with a group of 19 people split between those over 60 and those between 30 and 45 indicated that losing looks is a bigger concern when people are young, and it becomes less of an issue as people actually do get older.