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As Montana Baby Boomers Face Retirement, Innovative Survey Reveals Most Not Prepared for Crucial Issues

In the midst of the current economic slowdown, the results of a new survey announced today reveal the dreams and challenges facing Montanans age 50 and older.

The “first of its kind” survey shows that there is a huge gap between what Montana adults say is important to them and the extent to which they believe they have what they need to meet these important issues. The AARP Montana survey Voices of 50+ Montana: Dreams and Challenges shows that although Montana’s 50+ population has real concerns about the future, they are hopeful as well.

As part of a comprehensive evaluation of the needs, interests, concerns and priorities of Montanans over age 50, AARP Montana conducted the survey to capture their views on a number of important issues. The results of that survey will help set the strategic priorities for AARP in Montana.

"We want to know what’s on people’s minds," said Joy Bruck, AARP Montana State President. "Whether they're boomers looking forward to retirement or older Montanans looking at options for home and community based services, we are continually trying to gauge their opinion. There's no way to know what everybody is experiencing unless we ask. AARP Montana conducted this survey to further understand not only what our members are saying, but what all Montanans age 50 and older are saying.”

The survey sought answers to questions ranging from the importance of consumer protection issues to whether people are able to afford their prescription drugs. Survey respondents were also asked to rank their top dreams as they considered what’s next in life.

Top findings from the survey reveal that:

  • Health issues are very important in the lives of adults 50+. More than nine in ten say staying healthy and staying mentally sharp are extremely or very important to them.
  • There is a huge gap between what Montana adults 50+ say is important to them and the extent to which they feel they have what they need to meet these needs: only about one-third have everything they need to meet top health and financial needs.
  • Staying in their own homes as they age is important to adults 50+ -- 97 percent say it is important to have long-term care services available that allow people to remain in their own homes as they get older. In addition, 53 percent express a personal preference for long-term care services in their own homes.
  • 92 percent of those surveyed think it is important to have home-and community-based long-term care services available in one’s community. Almost six in ten think it would be hard to find affordable long-term care in their community.
  • 77 percent of Montanans surveyed currently take a prescription drug, or have taken one in the past year. Of these, many have asked for free samples or cut pills in half because of the cost of the prescription.
  • 44 percent of adults 50+ in Montana say that health care issues are the top problem facing mid-life and older adults in our state. These concerns include personal health status and also the issues of quality and affordability of health care.
  • 31 percent cite economic issues as the biggest concern of older adults in Montana. Economic issues include unemployment and having enough money to retire.

At a more personal level, 66 percent of adults 50+ say vacation, travel, hobbies and spending time with family are what they would like to do next in their lives.

Specific financial worries that 50+ Montanans have include identity theft and being victimized by deceptive financial practices. In that regard:

  • 70 percent are worried about protecting themselves against identity theft
  • 59 percent are worried about protecting themselves against unfair or deceptive financial practices.
  • 78 percent report that they are vigilant against fraud by shredding credit card receipts and reviewing their credit card statements.

Adults 50+ say they want to spend time traveling (42 percent) and pursuing their hobbies and interests (24 percent).

Some want to move or build/remodel homes. Adults 50+ want to see their children or grandchildren and be a part of their lives. They also want to spend time with friends.

Other social issues vary widely. They include topics like how to spend time, transportation/getting around, senior issues, family values, politics and government.

The findings from the survey will be coupled with other aspects of AARP Montana’s on-going evaluation of the wants, needs and concerns of Montanans over the age of 50, including informal focus groups, face-to-face discussions, web surveys and Tele-Town Halls.

“This comprehensive evaluation will help AARP Montana better determine exactly what’s on the minds of those age 50+ throughout Montana,” said Bruck. “The results become extremely critical for community leaders throughout Montana as we continue our efforts to enhance the quality of life for all as we age. As officials make public policy decisions that impact the lives of all Montanans, it’s essential for them to have reliable research results that accurately gauge public opinion."