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August 10, 2010

More than 70 million people are starting to turn 65 this year, and it is estimated that they will have 30+ years of retirement. A recent nationwide poll of older Americans, the Vi “Next Chapter” Study, probed attitudes of people 65 and older about aging concerns, expectations and aspiration and found that seniors are redefining “senior moments.” The study was commissioned by Vi, developer and operator of continuing care communities, and conducted by Penn Schoen Berland among nearly 800 US adults between the ages of 65 and 80. Results based on this sample of adults have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points, with a 95 percent confidence level.  Rather than look upon their “senior moments” as a negative, older adults are turning the traditional perception of that phrase upside down to more accurately reflect their health-conscious, active lifestyles, as well as their points of view about the next chapter of their lives. In fact, 39 percent say the phrase “senior moments” is a common joke among their friends, and they use it themselves. Indeed, more than four out of five seniors polled—82 percent—feel they have “so much to look forward to” and 83 percent say they feel “younger than they are.

“Today’s seniors are relatively healthy, very active, engaged in their lives, their interests and their communities and are a real hoot to be around,” said Kenneth Brummel-Smith, MD, Charlotte Edwards Maguire, Chair, and Professor, Department of Geriatrics, Florida State University. “This generation is redefining so many aspects of aging and retirement. It is no surprise this dynamic demographic is shattering outdated perceptions and rewriting the way we perceive older adults.”

Survey highlights include:

Not Their Father’s Retirement
81 percent of those surveyed have a different vision of retirement from that of their parents. Almost nine out of ten say they want their retirement to be more exciting and more active than their parents’ retirement, while almost all (98%) say retirement “can and should be a fun experience.” Just 6 percent look to their parents’ retirement as a guide for their own future. The majority—96 percent—say retirement doesn’t mean they are ready to stop being productive, and 79 percent feel productive currently.

Independence Means Freedom
The concept of “independence” in the later years is also undergoing a transformation. Older adults today equate independence with freedom to do what they like and from the responsibilities of work and raising a family, from worries about money and bills.

A Little “Me” Time
Nearly half say they’re done taking care of chores–it’s time to take care of “myself.” Two in five report they like to frequently treat themselves to new purchases such as shoes or clothes. More than one third of older Americans surveyed say they go out socially two or more nights each week. Half say having a healthy and active sex life is important to them.

Great Expectations
Two in five say that as they’ve gotten older, they’ve become more adventurous. A similar number say they’ve never had as much fun as they’re having now. Older adults polled say they are most excited about and fully expect to travel and spend time with family.

Health Is A Greater Concern Than Money
Health trumps money by a ratio of 4 to 1 when it comes to things older Americans are worried about. Eight out of 10 older adults say that “losing my health” concerns them more while only 17 percent are worried about “not having enough money to get by.”

Fitter Not Fatter
Sixty percent of older Americans polled say they are exercising more than 2-3 hours a week with 21 percent saying they exercise more than 5 hours each week. More than four out of five say they prepare meals from scratch rather than eating frozen, pre-prepared or takeout meals and 97 percent say the food they eat is very or somewhat healthy.

About Vi. Vi, formerly Classic Residence by Hyatt, was founded in 1987 as a developer, owner and operator of older living communities. The company is dedicated to enriching the lives of older adults by providing a higher quality of environment services and care. Vi currently operates nine continuing care communities (CRCCs) with another one under development and 10 rental communities. Vi communities have earned honors for being among the nation’s finest, including Platinum, Gold and Silver Achievement Awards from the National Association of Home Builders 50+ Housing Council. More information is available at the