LONG BEACH, Calif., Sept. 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- SCAN Health Plan®, one of the nation's largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage health plans, today announced results from its national survey on aging in place. Responses from 1,000 U.S. adults ages 65 and older indicate that 62% believe most seniors they know are unlikely to be able to safely age in place. Having adequate financial resources, coupled with friends or family nearby, top the list of factors seniors consider when evaluating where they will grow old.
"Roughly 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day, and we understand their priority is to remain in their own homes as they age," stated Romilla Batra, chief medical officer of SCAN. "However, these survey findings reaffirm that financial, logistical, physical and behavioral barriers are likely to prevent many from doing so. As the healthcare industry rightly turns its focus to these social determinants of health, we remain committed to addressing these issues, as we have for more than 40 years."
SCAN's 2019 survey of nationally representative seniors was designed to gauge sentiments on preparedness to age in place, and to assess their perception of potential impacts on their own mental health and physical well-being. Results reveal 88% of respondents are concerned about their ability to age in place, with a variety of factors contributing to their concerns:
- 80% worry how they'll afford to stay in their home
- 79% consider proximity to friends and family as a factor contributing to their ability to age in place
- Access to transportation assistance for such necessary errands as buying groceries is a consideration for 66% of respondents
While finances consistently top Americans' lists of concerns, seniors—who often live on fixed incomes—are particularly vulnerable. Among senior men, 51% believe financial resources are most important to the ability to age in place, compared to 36% of women. Even knowing that finances can make all the difference during retirement, a majority remain unprepared. Nearly 73% of city-dwelling older adults have less than $10,000 in savings compared to 63% of those in rural areas and 52% of those in suburban areas. Perhaps most concerning, 28% of seniors have nothing at all in savings, including investments or retirement plans.
Seeing their peers unable to live life on their own terms, seniors are rethinking their own readiness to age in place. In assessing people they know, 67% of seniors cite changes to physical health—such as injury or loss of mobility—as the bigger challenge for aging in place, while 34% say changes to brain health, such as memory loss or Alzheimer's, are the main challenge. Furthermore, 61% have friends who have had a severe decrease in physical abilities; 45% have friends who have lost the ability to drive; and 45% know people who have sustained an injury from an accident, such as a fall.
"As seniors see their friends and peers falter, they begin to doubt their own prospects of successfully aging in place," added Batra. "It's imperative that seniors are given the resources and support necessary to maintain their sense of independence and truly flourish as they age. These findings give additional insight into what people face as they make decisions impacting their ability to age on their own terms, which most often means in their own home."