Americans Fear Living To Be 100
NEW YORK - As medical breakthroughs show promise in slowing the debilitating effects of aging, almost two thirds of Americans say they do not want to live to be 100, according to the results of a survey.
Survey respondents cited poor health and financial insecurity as the primary concerns about living to a very old age. They also expressed fear about losing mental faculties, depending on others, burdening their family, becoming isolated, and living in a nursing home.
The survey, released by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), found that 63% of 2,032 adults surveyed did not want to reach 100, and that 46% of this group worry about declining health as they age.
But according to John Feather, director of the AARP Andrus Foundation that funds research on aging, this response is based on an outdated understanding of what it means to grow old.
"People don't want to live to be the stereotype of 100," Feather told Reuters Health. "But people can make choices at any point in their lives to make longer life better."
Indeed 84% of respondents said they are exercising, eating well, watching their weight or maintaining a positive attitude so that they remain healthy as they age. Such lifestyle choices are more important for seniors than genetics when it comes to keeping fit, Feather said.
"After a certain age genetics is less important," he commented.
The survey also found that 60% of Americans believe life will improve for the average 80-year-old. Fifty-seven percent expect medical breakthroughs to increase life expectancy to 120 years within the next century, and most of those surveyed believed that there will be a cure for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's disease and heart disease, the leading causes of death, in the next century.
Respondents also noted the benefits of old age including more time for family, friends and hobbies, and personal and spiritual growth.
People aged 85 and older are the fastest growing age group in America. The AARP, a group that represents those aged 50 and over, estimates that there will be about 70 million older people by 2030.