Americans Not Too Concerned About Aging – That Spells Trouble

Alfred_E._NeumannBe very concerned. Because Americans seem least concerned about aging and they should be. According to a Pew Research Center survey, nearly nine-in-ten Japanese, eight-in-ten South Koreans and seven-in-ten Chinese describe aging as a major problem for their country. Europeans also display a relatively high level of concern. Americans are among the least concerned, with only one-in-four concerned. The U.S. population is expected to age at a slower rate than in most other countries and that could be part of the reason for the optimism. Pew also finds a wide divergence in people‰Ûªs confidence that they will have an adequate standard of living in their old age. Confidence is lowest in Japan, Italy and Russia, countries that are aging and where economic growth has been anemic in recent years. When asked who should bear the greatest responsibility for the economic well-being of the elderly‰ÛÓtheir families, the government or the elderly themselves‰ÛÓthe government tops the list in 13 of the 21 countries that were surveyed. American public opinion on aging differs dramatically. Americans are less likely than most of the global public to view the growing number of older people as a major problem. They are more confident than Europeans that they will have an adequate standard of living in their old age. And the U.S. is one of very few countries where the public believes individuals are primarily responsible for their own well-being in old age. I of course have my own opinion. I am personally optimistic but that is partially because I practice what I preach. My aging platform, I call it educated aging, stresses the need to prepare for aging sooner in life ‰ÛÒ physically, financially and emotionally. I work hard on my fitness so that I can live a quality life longer. My wife and I have been very fortunate financially but so are many others. The key is that we have also saved in our 401k plans to finance our retirement. And we have invested in long-term care insurance to avoid having to use our retirement savings, which could quickly evaporate, for that. Emotional aging – well I spend thousands of hours around seniors so I know the resiliency and the other traits seniors have to assure that they mentally thrive in old age. I am afraid many people are going to be in for a rude awakening about their quality of aging in this country.