You've got to hand it to Americans. We sure are a bunch of cockeyed optimists. Despite deep cynicism with our political leaders and a perception of growing greed and income inequality, when it comes to our personal prospects, we tend to see nothing but blue skies ahead.
Case in point: A poll conducted earlier this year of 3,200 Americans found that 89 percent of those older than 60 and 84 percent of those 18 to 59 are confident they can maintain a high quality of life throughout their senior years. That’s despite the fact that most among us have saved way too little toward retirement and that multiple chronic ailments are a near certainty as we age.
However, there are some heartening signs to support at least cautious optimism. For example, more and more of us are doing what we can to improve our chances for a healthier and less stressful later life, according to the 2014 United States of Aging Survey. The survey was conducted by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today, and results were released in July.
Fifty-three percent of senior respondents said they set health goals in 2014, such as eating better, losing weight and getting more exercise. That’s a bump from 26 percent in 2013.
Other positive signs from the senior set:
• 37 percent said they exercise every day, up from 26 percent in 2013.
• 54 percent said their community is doing enough to prepare for the needs of a growing senior population.
• 58 percent overall have discussed end-of-life care with loved ones; among those 75 and older, 63 percent have done so.
• 53 percent have created advance directives with loved ones.
Hospitals, of course, are bracing for an onslaught of age-related challenges as the boomer generation hurtles toward senior citizenhood. Acute inpatient care will be dramatically impacted. But with a robust combination of technology, ambulatory facilities, impeccably communicated discharge planning and follow-up calls and visits, hospitals will enable more and more older patients to remain in their homes where they want to be. And that’s certainly a reason to keep hope alive.