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New AARP Survey: Retirement Dreams Slipping Away

A new AARP survey of Floridians age 50 or older reflects an older population with bright dreams of traveling and spending time on leisure pursuits in retirement. But they also say the Great Recession has forced them to put those dreams on hold, with 44 percent saying they would delay retirement if the economy does not improve. Of those who planned to delay retirement, 28 percent said they expected never to retire.

“This survey paints a picture of Floridians age 50+ who are having to defer their dreams and come to terms with a tough economy,” said Jeff Johnson, AARP Florida interim state director. “For an alarmingly large number, their dreams are delayed or slipping out of reach. This is something for all generations of Americans to work on, and AARP can help.”

The Florida results come from a huge AARP survey effort – the Association conducted separate surveys in each of the 50 states and the three territories where AARP has offices, plus a national survey – to better gather information on the needs, interests and concerns of Americans 50+.

Those surveyed were pessimistic about a rapid rebound from Florida’s worst economic downturn since the 1930s and worried about maintaining their finances in retirement.

The survey also found large gaps between what Americans 50+ believe they need to remain healthy, secure and active and what they expect to have. Among the survey’s findings:

Just over half of respondents (52 percent) listed vacation and travel as activities they would most dream of doing. Another 16 percent listed hobbies and interests as their top dream, while 7 percent dreamed first of spending more time with children, grandchildren or family.

Asked if they planned to delay retirement if the economy did not improve, 44 percent said they would delay retirement. Of those who said they would delay complete retirement, 40 percent said they would delay retirement five years or more, and 28 percent said they expected never to retire.

Asked when they expected the state economy to improve, 41 percent of those surveyed said it would take three years or more, the longest alternative offered in the survey. Thirty-one percent predicted the state’s economy would improve in two to three years and 12 percent estimated one to two years. Some 16 percent said they didn’t know or were not sure.

Some 62 percent said they were extremely or very worried about maintaining their finances in retirement, while 64 percent said they were extremely or very worried about being able to receive public assistance benefits if needed.

Asked to list the single most important problem or challenge, more picked health care than any other issue (43 percent), with 31 percent listing economic issues including unemployment or having enough money to retire.

The survey showed large gaps between what older Floridians thought they needed and what they expected to have in later life. Some 93 percent said it was extremely or very important to remain healthy but only 40 percent said they had what they needed to remain healthy. Also, 90 percent said it was extremely or very important to have adequate health-insurance coverage, while only 35 percent said they had adequate coverage.

Just over half (54 percent) reported it was extremely, very or somewhat difficult to pay out-of-pocket monthly medical expenses. Seventy-five percent had seen out-of-pocket health costs rise in the past five years.

Overwhelmingly, survey respondents preferred to receive care in their homes or communities if they needed long-term care. Only 7 percent preferred to receive care in a nursing home.

More than 400 Floridians were surveyed in January. The survey results are expected to be accurate within plus or minus 5 percent.

“This survey points to some serious concerns that Floridians 50+ share,” Johnson said. “Since all of us look forward to growing older, these are issues that all of us can and should be working on. AARP Florida will use this information to continue its efforts to help Floridians age 50+ live their best life.”

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