February 7, 2012
A multigenerational quality of life poll shows that Americans retain a positive outlook despite economic hardships and 76 percent believe "the best is yet to come," and when they think about the quality of their life in the future, many are optimistic.
These results are part of a new GOLD Indicator (Gauging Overall Life Dimensions), the first of an annual survey to assess how Americans view their lives based on the ten indicators of satisfaction — family, neighborhood safety, housing situation, spiritual life, health, friends, work or how days are spent, free time, finances and community involvement. On average, Americans rate their overall quality of life as a 72 on a scale from zero to 100.
Some groups are more satisfied with their lives than others, including America's oldest generation, which gives higher marks than their younger counterparts in 6 out of the 10 GOLD Indicator dimensions, according to the study titled, "Generation to Generation: Gauging the Golden Years," which was conducted for Home Instead Senior Care by the Marist Poll.
Despite their personal optimism, an overwhelming majority of Americans (74%) think the country is headed the wrong direction, including 76% of Baby Boomers, 79% of the Greatest Generation, 77% of Gen X, and 65% of Millennials.
Baby Boomers (adults 47-65) and the Greatest Generation (adults over 65) hold a comparably strong and opposite opinion about their own lives and future, according to the GOLD Indicator. Boomers (GOLD Indicator of 70) and the Greatest Generation (GOLD Indicator of 72) say that they've done a much better job of managing their own lives which they see as heading in the right direction.
Americans said that what's good about their lives includes: Family, neighborhood safety, housing, their health and spiritual life. But weighing on optimism is the lack of community involvement and free time as well as challenges with personal finance.
"We also found that life after 65 doesn't always match expectations," said Paul Hogan, Chairman and Founder of Home Instead Senior Care.
"The data in our GOLD Indicator allows us to understand the expectations of younger generations for what retirement will be like. We find that it is not always reflected in what older generations say their reality is. So, do younger generations have unrealistic expectations OR are these, in fact, a window into the future of retirement?"
The results also showed that Americans, particularly those under 65, are woefully unprepared in the event that they can no longer make their own medical decisions or live independently. Roughly half of those who have already reached retirement age, over 20 million seniors, acknowledge they have not completely prepared for a time when they may not be able to live independently.
"There is clearly a need among younger generations of adults for education about what to expect as they age – and more importantly how to prepare for it," said Hogan.
For many, there's one more piece of good news: While 29% of those under age 65 worry about enjoying an active sex life after age 65, that simple pleasure of life is a reality for 57% of those over 65 years of age.
When it comes to life satisfaction, don't rule out the importance of finances.
"Maybe money can buy happiness. This study clearly showed that those with incomes in excess of $50,000 per year are happier and more optimistic than those who earn less."
And, finally, younger Americans and women tend to be more optimistic than their older and male counterparts. What's more, the farther they look into the future the more optimistic they are.
"Home Instead is in the business of caring for people in the later stages of life," said Hogan, "so it's important for us to understand how they view life. It's also important for us to understand the perceptions of aging that younger generations possess. With 38 million seniors and soon-to-be seniors moving rapidly to the point where they will need care to live independently, we want to understand them and be in a position to help them."
Explore this topic more, view Greatest Generation Likes Where It Is In Life Presentation (PDF 2Mb)
Dan Wieberg, Home Instead Senior Care
The survey was undertaken by Home Instead Senior Care and conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. 1,235 adults 18 years of age and older residing in the continental United States were interviewed by telephone from September 26, 2011, through September 29, 2011. Telephone numbers were selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. To increase coverage, the land-line sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers. The two samples were then combined. Results are statistically significant within ±2.8 percentage points. The error margin increases for cross-tabulations. Please note that some totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
About Home Instead Senior Care
Founded in 1994 in Omaha by Lori and Paul Hogan, the Home Instead Senior Care® network is the world's largest provider of non-medical in-home care services for seniors, with more than 950 independently owned and operated franchises providing in excess of 45 million hours of care throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany, South Korea, Finland, Austria, Italy, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ more than 65,000 CAREGiversSM worldwide who provide basic support services – assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), personal care, medication reminders, meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands, incidental transportation and shopping – which enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. In addition, CAREGivers are trained in the network’s groundbreaking Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and EducationSM Program to work with seniors who suffer from these conditions. This world class curriculum also is available free to family caregivers online or through local Home Instead Senior Care offices. At Home Instead Senior Care, it’s relationship before task, while continuing to provide superior quality service that enhances the lives of seniors everywhere. For more information, go to http://www.homeinstead.com/.