There's no cure for growing old, but your attitude about what's important and how you feel about aging can depend in part on how old you are, a new survey finds.
The survey of 1,017 people over 18 finds, for instance, that 24% admit they have lied about their age. But of those 50-64, it's just 21%, and for those over 65, it's 18%.
The survey, out today, was commissioned by the drug company Pfizer in conjunction with about a dozen health advocacy organizations to help encourage dialogue about aging in America. In addition to the survey, the group plans to launch a website, GetOld.com, which invites users to share perspectives on aging.
Asked how they feel about getting old, the top choice was "optimistic" (39%). But not far behind was "uneasy" (36%). About 42% of those 50 to 64 are optimistic, the highest percentage of any age group.
Experts say findings are not surprising. Many adults spend more years in good health, says Nancy Perry Graham, editor in chief of AARP The Magazine.
People also enjoy more freedom as they age and stop having to prove themselves at work or in relationships, Graham says.
The survey also aimed to shed light on people's fears. Only 7% over 65 said their biggest fear was dying; 64% said they were most afraid of losing independence or living in pain.
More than half (51%) of those 18 to 65 would accept having a parent live with them, but just 25% over 65 would want to live with a younger relative if unable to care for themselves.
Freda Lewis-Hall, Pfizer's chief medical officer, says the company and partners did the survey to "shake things up."
"We think a good way to do that is to start by listening and then amplifying the conversation and learning how Americans are really tackling aging -- and that's Americans of all ages."
The findings suggest that adults' priorities shift as they age: presented with a list of lifetime achievements, 45% of 18- to 34-year-olds most aspire to have $1 million, but 48% of those over 65 say they would rather see their grandchild graduate.
Linda Fried of the International Longevity Center at Columbia University says it's crucial that people deal with the realities of aging, not just the downsides. "We have such a human aversion to getting old; it's associated with death, and death is scary. But as a society, we have not had the conversations we need to have. There's huge opportunities there."
over age 65 say their biggest fear is losing independence or living in pain
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