A new survey of Americans’ attitudes about aging yielded some fascinating — and surprising — nuggets, including the fact that more than half of us think we look younger than our age, 70 percent of those over 65 say they’re more active than their parents were, and most of us say age 38 was when we first “felt our age.”
As for our role models in aging well: Celebs Betty White and George Clooney get the top votes.
The survey was conducted in conjunction with a new website — www.GetOld.com — where people can share their observations and thoughts on aging and also get information about various aspects of growing old.
The website is being set up by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in partnership with 10 health advocacy groups, including the Alzheimer’s Association, Easter Seals, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, National Family Caregivers Association and the Visiting Nurses Association.
According to the Washington Post, Pfizer says it wants to be a leader in this area, helping open a dialogue about and promoting better understanding of aging — although Post columnist Jennifer Huget admits she can’t help but wonder if the goal is also to help Pfizer sell its products.
Still, the survey is definitely interesting. Conducted in early May by market research firm Gallup & Robinson, researchers questioned 1,017 adults age 18 and older about everything from when they had their first kiss, to how old they expect to live to, to whether or not they’re optimistic about getting old.
Here are some of the thought-provoking results:
Do you look younger than your age? 51 percent all people surveyed think they do; 60 percent of those 50 to 64 say they look at least five years younger than their age.
Do you expect to live longer, better and healthier? Those age 50 to 64 are most optimistic about getting old (42 percent); health was the number one reason people felt aging was better (74 percent) or worse (66 percent) than expected. On average, people expect to reach age 84.
What do you value most? 48 percent of people over 65 would rather see a grandchild graduate than have $1 million; nearly 40 percent of people over 65 say seeing a woman president is one of their top three lifetime hopes.
Some of the challenges of aging? While 51 percent of those 18 to 65 would accept having a parent live with them, only 25 percent of those over 65 would want to live with a younger relative if they could no longer care the themselves.
Healthy lifestyle rules you follow? 60 percent of those 65-plus say they eat five servings daily of fruits and vegetables, more than any other age group; 70 percent of those 65 and over say they are more active than their parents were at the same age, while only 27 percent of those age 18 to 34 say they are more active than their parents were at their age.
Age milestones you recommend? Age 15: Most people experience their first kiss. Age 22: You should be financially independent from parents. Age 25: Time to consider marriage. Age 32: When you first remind yourself of your parents. Age 38: When you first feel your age. Age 41: When people should stop having kids.
In other health news:
Loneliness among older adults carries serious health risks. Loneliness stings at any age, the New York Times reports, but in older people, it can have serious health consequences, raising the risks of an earlier-than-expected death and the loss of physical functioning, according to a study published on Monday.
Shrinking stomach may boost risk for booze abuse. The Associated Press reports that the most common type of obesity surgery may increase patients’ chances for alcohol abuse, according to the largest study to demonstrate a potential link. Patients who had gastric bypass surgery faced double the risk for excessive drinking, compared with those who had a less drastic weight-loss operation.
TV remotes among dirtiest items in hotel rooms. The next time you stay in a hotel, you might want to bring some extra hand-sanitizer, reports Reuters. A study on contamination levels in hotel rooms led by the University of Houston, presented at the American Society of Microbiology, reported that two of the most contaminated items were TV remote controls and bedside lamp switches.
Photo credit: Luke MacGregor/Reuters