Monday, September 13, 2010

AARP Survey Looks at Recession's Impact on Lower-Income Adults 45+

/PRNewswire/ -- An AARP report released today for the first time paints a picture of the struggles lower-income older adults are facing during the recession. The AARP Closer Look June 2010 survey found that nearly six in 10 Americans 45+ who make less than $25,000 a year say they are either "not at all" or "not too" confident they will have enough money to pay medical and living expenses in retirement, compared to 36 percent of higher income adults.

More than four in 10 (42 percent) lower-income older adults rate their health as "fair" or "poor," compared to only 18 percent of those who earn more than $25,000 a year. Additionally, many report they are struggling to meet basic needs, like paying for food and electricity, heat and water bills.

"While the recession has been devastating for many older Americans, this recent data indicates lower-income folks are being hit particularly hard," said Jo Ann Jenkins, president of AARP's affiliated charity, the AARP Foundation. "Each day, millions are choosing between essentials like buying groceries or paying for prescriptions. It's a devastating choice that no one should have to make."

Similar to the general population, lower-income older adults have cut back, but they are doing so in greater numbers. Nearly 40 percent had to cancel or postpone needed healthcare or dental treatments in the last six months--twice as many as higher-income adults. Twenty-three percent skipped doses, cut pills in half or did not fill prescriptions, compared with 15 percent of higher-income people. Lower-income adults are twice as likely to have looked for more affordable housing in the last six months compared to higher-income levels. And half used their car less to cut down on gas costs.

Additional findings for all income levels indicate the continual struggles older Americans are experiencing in tough economic times:

-- More than one in four adults 45+ (28 percent) stopped contributing to
retirement savings in the past six months, and 14 percent of adults 45
to 64 reported having to prematurely withdraw funds from retirement
savings vehicles--a trend which has increased at a significant rate
over the recession.
-- When asked about current value of retirement savings available, nearly
half (48 percent) reported having less than $50,000 in savings, with
16 percent of those reporting no savings at all.
-- With many older workers currently facing extended unemployment, a
large majority (63 percent) of respondents said that, based on what
they have experienced or observed, older workers face age
discrimination in the workplace.
-- Twenty percent of people 45+ reported problems paying their medical
bills in the last six months. The percentages were significantly
higher for Hispanics (29 percent) and African-Americans (33 percent).
-- More than a quarter of people 45+ have put off or postponed getting
needed health care or dental treatments or services in the last six
-- Gas prices continue to be a challenge for more than a third (35
percent) of people age 45+, but finding adequate public transportation
alternatives is also a problem, 34 percent say.
-- A third of people age 45+ report are fixing up their homes to stay
there longer even as almost half (45 percent) note that their
community lacks affordable housing if they chose to move.

AARP Foundation ( and AARP Real Relief ( have resources to help lower-income older Americans make ends meet, including federal benefits assistance, money management programs and tips to cut expenses.

AARP Closer Look is a twice-yearly poll to help understand the effect of social and economic changes on baby boomers and older Americans. The full survey is available at html.


ICR conducted the Closer Look Survey for AARP via telephone between June 9 and June 30, 2010, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 respondents 45+. One hundred respondents were Hispanic and 100 were African American. The margin of error is +/- 3.35 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

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