Glimpsing the Future: What Retirement Holds for Seniors By Emily Mullin September 29, 2011
Current retirees and those nearing retirement have different views of what their “golden years” will be like, a new national poll shows.
Today’s seniors say they are more likely to retire later in life than current retirees did because of finances, and many worry about paying for medical care during retirement.
For most retirees, life in retirement is better or the same as it was in the years before they retired, but it is also worse for a large minority of people in the areas of health and finances, according to a September poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health.
For nearly 73 percent of retirees polled, life in retirement is better than or the same as it was during the five years before they retired. Retirees said in many areas, their lives have improved since they retired. They are less stressed, their relationships with their families and spouses are better, their diet is more healthful and they spend more time doing activities they enjoy, such as playing sports, doing hobbies and volunteering.
Yet 25 percent of retirees reported that life is worse now than before they retired; 39 percent say their health is poorer and 35 percent say their financial situation is worse.
Pre-retirees, too, may underestimate healthcare costs and financial challenges of retirement.
The poll found that the expectations of pre-retirees and the reality of retirees did not match up in many areas. For example, 14 percent of pre-retirees said their overall quality of life would be worse in retirement than now where 25 percent of retirees said that their life now is actually worse than it was before retirement. In relation to their health, 13 percent of pre-retirees said their health would be worse when they retire and 39 percent of retirees said their health is worse off in retirement. Less than a quarter of pre-retirees predict their financial situation will be worse, while a third of retirees said it actually is.
Pre-retirees also expect to retire later than those who are already retired and some expect never to fully retire; 60 percent of pre-retirees expect to retire at age 65 or older, while only 26 percent of current retirees polled said they waited to retire at age 65 or older. More than one in 10 pre-retirees said they never expect to fully retire. The major reason pre-retirees cited for planning to delay retirement was finances.