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New Survey: Oklahomans Worried about Health and Economic Issues

More than half of adults 50+ say that health care issues are the top problem or challenge facing mid-life and older adults, according to a new survey released today by AARP Oklahoma.

Additionally, one fourth of respondents said economic issues, including unemployment and having enough money to retire, are challenges for them.

The survey, titled “Voices of 50+ Oklahoma: Dreams and Challenges”, measures issues of importance, financial concerns, long-term care concerns and state budget concerns as well as dreams for the 50+ population in Oklahoma.

Findings are based on a state sample of 400 50+ Oklahomans – both AARP members and non-AARP members – conducted Jan. 2-31.

“AARP is committed to help improve the lives of the 50+ population” said AARP Oklahoma Volunteer State President Marjorie Lyons. “This survey demonstrates the association’s desire to listen to our needs, interests and concerns.”

Key issues of importance to the 50+ population today:

  • 95% of those surveyed said staying healthy is extremely important
  • 89% of those surveyed say receiving Medicare and Social Security when needed is extremely important
  • 87% of those surveyed said having adequate health insurance is extremely important

Conversely, only 29% of those surveyed said they feel like they have everything they need when it comes to receiving Social Security and Medicare and only 34% say they have everything they need to stay healthy.

“I think it’s very clear that older Oklahomans have a lot of worries concerning the future of Social Security and Medicare,” Lyons said. “It’s a strong signal to our lawmakers that these are issues that the 50+ population expects them to address.”

Financial Concerns of Oklahoma’s 50+ Population include:

  • 71% are worried about identity theft
  • 64% are worried about unfair or deceptive practices
  • 58% are worried about online safety and security

What’s more, 49% of Oklahomans polled said paying their monthly household utility costs is a problem.

“It is startling that just under half of adults 50+ Oklahoma are having a problem paying their utility bills,” said AARP Executive Council Member Joe Ann Vermillion of McAlester. “I think it speaks to the fact that older Oklahomans are struggling to make ends meet.”

Nearly all those surveyed (92%) said it is important to have home and community-based long-term care services – such as home health care, personal care, adult day health services and transportation – available that allow people to remain in the own homes.

If long-term care is needed, over half would prefer to have long-term care provided in their own homes.

“We must continue to make funding home and community-based services a priority,” Vermillion said. “Particularly, as baby boomers reach retirement age, it will be critical for us to expand long-term care options that allow people to live in their own homes.”

Almost all of those surveyed (95%) said it is important for the state to protect funding for home care services that allow people to stay in their own homes.

Finally, the survey revealed that Oklahomans 50+ say they want to spend time traveling and pursuing their hobbies and interests.

“The bottom line is that we are no longer aging, we are living,” Lyons said. “This survey and the accompanying results illustrate the real issues, attitudes and dreams facing older Oklahomans. In many of these areas, particularly in health and long-term care, AARP Oklahoma is already working with state and federal legislators. We are also continuing to focus our efforts on utility issues, both here at the Capitol and at the Corporation Commission.”

Lyons and Vermillion said that survey results have been shared with Oklahoma’s congressional delegation and copies will be distributed to state lawmakers as well.

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