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Approaching 65: A Survey of Boomers Turning 65 Years Old

For many demographers and social scientists, the long-awaited year has arrived. Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011, more than 7,000 people will turn 65 years old every single day. AARP's survey of boomers turning 65 in 2011 finds this first wave of the boomer generation generally satisfied with their lives and optimistic about the next third of life.  Financial security and improving their health are top concerns; these issues affect their outlook now, how they feel about the future, and what plans they are making. In a few respects, boomers turning 65 have age-related concerns similar to their parents when they were 65. Like their parents, they want to age in place, and have found that aging often presents chronic health conditions and financial responsibilities that influence how they will live the last third of life. But in one very important respect, boomers turning 65 are different from their parents — the baby boom generation has redefined what retirement means. When their parents entered retirement, it was considered a time that might feature travel, relaxation and enjoyment but little work outside of an avocation. Boomers overall and many of those turning 65 consider work to be part of retirement, and a significant percentage say that they never will consider themselves retired.

Other findings include:

  • Boomers turning 65 are largely satisfied with their lives. Seventy-eight percent of those turning 65 in 2011 say they are satisfied with the way things are going in their lives today. This is almost identical to the 77 percent of boomers turning 60 in 2006 who said they were satisfied.
  • About 4 in 10 respondents feel they are about where they expected to be at this point in terms of their financial security and health. However, more people feel they are worse off than feel they have done well in these same areas.  Slight majorities feel they are about where they expected to be in their relationships, at work, and in their spiritual lives.
  • Overall, 7 in 10 boomers turning 65 say they have achieved all or most of what they wanted out of life, and 26 percent say they have achieved some of what they wanted.  Only 3 percent say they have achieved little or none of what they wanted out of life. 
  • Boomers turning 65 expect to live about the same number of years as they want to live. On average, boomers turning 65 in 2011 expect to live until they are 85.2 years old. This is only 3 1/2 years short of the average length of time they want to live — 88.7 years.

The AARP Turning 65 survey obtained telephone interviews with a sample of 801 respondents who will be turning 65 in 2011 drawn at random from throughout the United States. The interviews were conducted by Woelfel Research, Inc. from Nov. 11 to Nov. 15, 2010. For more information please contact the author, Jeff Love, at 202-434-6279.

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