Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Oldest Americans Say This Is the No. 1 Surprise of Aging

Senior woman
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From the beginning to the very end, life is a series of nonstop surprises. Our golden years are particularly hard to predict.

Recently, AARP Research and National Geographic Partners teamed up to survey more than 2,500 American adults and find out how life changes for people over the years.

As part of the Second Half of Life Study, researchers asked respondents age 85 and older to talk about whether their senior years have unfolded as they expected.

For the most part, the answer was yes. But there were some aspects of aging that came as a surprise to large numbers of seniors.

Physical activity level

Worried man in retirement
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Respondents age 85 and older who said their current experience is what they expected in this area: 58%

We all expect to slow down with age. But many folks are taken aback at just how much aging impacts their level of physical activity.

About 42% of respondents said they were surprised that their physical activity has not met their expectations.

Activity and engagement

Sad senior looking out a window
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Respondents age 85 and older who said their current experience is what they expected in this area: 68%

Among survey respondents who were 80 or older, 81% had a serious health condition. Such ailments can make it difficult to get out and do things, or even simply to meet with friends.

Perhaps that is why 32% of survey respondents who were 85 or older said their level of activity and engagement in retirement is not what they had anticipated it would be.

One way to stay more active is to make sure you maintain as much of your health as possible. So try to avoid the “7 Fatal Health Mistakes People Make After Age 50.”

Mobility

Senior woman in a wheelchair
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Respondents age 85 and older who said their current experience is what they expected in this area: 73%

Mobility issues are probably a prime factor why so many seniors have reduced activity levels and lack activity and engagement.

Whether they expected to be in a wheelchair at this point or stay spritely to the end, 73% of respondents said their mobility was about what they expected it would be.

Other

Happy seniors outdoors
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Here are the rest of the things seniors were asked about, followed by the percentage who said these things have unfolded as expected:

  • Financial resources: 77%
  • Mental sharpness: 83%
  • Sense of purpose: 85%
  • Living arrangements: 86%
  • Meaningful relationships: 90%

Your money situation can play a significant role in whether expectations line up with reality later in life. Wondering when to apply for Social Security? Stop by the Money Talks News Solutions Center to find expert help in answering this difficult question.

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