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Americans Age 50+ and Stress: An AARP Bulletin Poll

AARP polled Americans age 50 and over in order to discover how much stress older adults feel on a regular basis as well the major causes of their stress and how they cope with it.

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Key findings include:

  • Only a small percentage—11%—of  adults age 50+ said their stress is pretty high or out of control on the day we asked them. The majority (81%) were either stress free or under only a little stress.
  • Money problems (40%), health (31%), and children/grandchildren (17%) top the list of the main causes of people’s stress.
  • Thirty-five percent of adults age 50+ say they have been stressed at least a few times a week or more in the last year. Younger adults are more likely to be frequently stressed than older adults (44% vs. 23%).
  • Nearly four in 10 (37%) of adults 50+ have had a major stressful life event in the last year.
  • Top stressful life events among those who cited a stressor include death of a loved one (31%), chronic illness (28%), caregiving (19%), moving (12%), and job loss (12%).
  • Top ways respondents manage their stress include exercise (47%), prayer (41%), talking to friends (41%), talking to spouse/partner (30%), and eating favorite foods (22%). One in ten (11%) say they have no management options.
  • Among the bad habits people fall into while stressed, adults 50+ say they are more likely to sleep less than usual (42%), lose their temper (37%) and eat more (34%) under stress.

Data were collected from 1,000 Americans age 50 and older via online survey using an e-Rewards online panel. Data were weighted to represent the US population of adults age 50+ by age, gender, ethnicity, and region using the Census’ Current Population Survey. Data were collected August 8-August 14, 2014. For more information, contact Gretchen Anderson at ganderson@aarp.org.

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