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Health and well-being tops seniors' biggest concerns over finances

SecureHorizons by UnitedHealthcare, the UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) brand focused exclusively on the health and well-being of seniors 65 and older on Medicare, has released the results of its Senior Security Study. This comprehensive national survey of seniors ages 63-80 was conducted to identify what seniors want and are most concerned about across a wide range of lifestyle, wellness and health care topics. Among the survey's top findings:

-- More Seniors Care More About Health than Wealth: Nearly seven out of 10 seniors (69%) expressed concerns about their health and well-being, a larger percentage than those who expressed concern about other categories such as personal finance (52%), often considered a top source of anxiety among older Americans, spiritual well-being (58%) and receiving adequate care in old age (56%).

-- Most Staying Up-to-Date on Health Care: Eighty percent of seniors reported that they keep up-to-date on the latest health news. Doctors, at 43%, are the most popular source of health information for seniors. The Internet (25%) is the second most common resource consulted by seniors, although younger respondents were more likely to go online for health answers than older ones.

 

-- Maintaining Mental Sharpness a Priority: Preserving their mental function is a bigger concern among seniors than the relationship issues, mood disorders and emotional problems that can accompany aging. Nearly six out of 10 seniors (59%) are concerned about staying mentally sharp. Less than half (48%) say they are concerned about maintaining social relationships. Less than one-third are concerned about dealing with depression (32%) and loneliness (31%).

"We conducted this survey to find out what really matters to seniors," said Rick Jelinek, chief executive officer of SecureHorizons by UnitedHealthcare. "Given our exclusive focus on helping seniors 65 and older 'live secure, be secure,' it's crucial that we know their biggest concerns. As the Senior Security Study reveals, seniors today want to maintain a healthy, independent lifestyle -- and want to make sure that their health care coverage helps them achieve this goal affordably and in a way that meets their specific needs."

Jelinek continued, "Our entire approach to health care is based on educating seniors about their options, which is why we've launched a new education campaign that features a series of Show-Me Guides, as well as a new Web site, http://www.ilivesecure.com/  , to help seniors navigate the Medicare system and connect them with valuable tips for maintaining their health and well-being."

Health and Well-Being Matter More than Personal Finances

Senior concerns about their health and well-being cover a broad range of issues. The most common concerns among seniors include maintaining their health and mobility (62%) and maintaining an active lifestyle (55%). A majority of seniors also care about the availability of affordable prescription drugs (55%).

"We know the cost of prescription drugs has been a big concern with seniors, especially low-income seniors," said Jelinek. "That's why we've worked so hard with our partners at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to bring affordable drugs to this population through Medicare Part D coverage. Today, more than 38 million Medicare beneficiaries now have comprehensive prescription drug coverage. Part D is helping seniors manage their drug costs. It's one of the many ways we're helping them 'live secure, be secure.'"

 

While 69% of respondents mentioned health as a concern, only 52% say they are worried about their finances and 58% are concerned about their spiritual well-being. The most common spiritual concern among seniors is being at peace before they die (45%). Almost the same number of respondents say they are concerned about maintaining their health in order to attend religious services (44%). However, relatively few seniors (27%) regret not living a more spiritual life.

Regarding their personal finances, more than half (54%) of seniors are concerned with having enough money to last the rest of their life. Nearly half of seniors are also concerned with paying for long-term care (48%) and understanding how their health coverage works (47%).

Seniors Look to Doctors and the Internet for Information on Staying Healthy and Active

Staying informed on health and well-being is a priority for most seniors, with 80% reporting that they keep up-to-date on the latest health news. After physicians, at 43%, the Internet is the most popular source of information -- one quarter of respondents say they looked online for health answers, although younger seniors ages 63-64 (46%) are more likely to go online for health answers than 65-72 year olds (27%) and 73-80 year olds (18%).

Other top resources for respondents include magazines (22%), newspapers (20%) and television (18%). In general, men and women relied on the same sources of information, although women were more than twice as likely as men to get their health information from television (23% compared to 10%).

Seniors More Concerned about Mental Health than Relationships, Loneliness and Depression

Maintaining mental sharpness (59%) is a commonly cited concern among seniors. In contrast, less than half (48%) say they are concerned about maintaining social relationships. Roughly one third of respondents express concern about depression (32%) and about the same percentage (31%) say they are concerned about loneliness, one of the most commonly noted emotional health issues among the elderly.

When asked what specific mental health condition concerns them most, Alzheimer's topped the list, with 22% of seniors saying they are concerned about the disease.

Many seniors also have questions about paying for mental health expenses -- 45% of them are concerned about knowing whether their health insurance plan covers mental health care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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