WASHINGTON — Getting older is better than younger Americans, including millennials, might think, according to a new survey by AARP.
In the survey, 47 percent of 18- to 39-year-olds said that they believe it is “normal to be depressed when you’re old.” But just 10 percent of respondents age 60 and older believe that old age is a “depressing stage of life.”
Those 60 and older who were surveyed reported higher levels of life satisfaction than their younger counterparts; 67 percent of people in the 60-plus group reported that they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their life, compared to 61 percent of those ages 18 to 39, and 60 percent of 40- to 59-year-olds.
“The findings of this new survey are further confirmation of something a lot of people, especially older people, know instinctively, and that is that our upper ages can be great,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. “However, I think the survey also presents a fairly stark reminder that we’re all faced by a lot of negative associations around aging — some of it’s ‘in the culture’ and some of it may be self-generated, but it’s all damaging and, as this survey shows, it’s often wrong.”
Getting older is not without its downsides.
A sizable majority of survey respondents believe older consumers are not served well by a variety of industries; 68 percent said the fashion industry doesn’t serve older consumers well, 62 percent said the same about technology, 58 percent said so about sports, and 55 percent said so about entertainment.
The 60-plus population is growing quickly, and already accounts for more than $7.1 trillion in annual spending in the U.S.
Despite that, AARP said that there aren’t a lot of products and services being developed specifically with the interests and needs of older Americans in mind.
“It’s easy to understand how and why businesses tend to focus first on younger consumers, but if they’re ignoring older customers they’re going to miss out on the nation’s — and the world’s — largest consumer market,” Jenkins said.
Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.