Many aging Americans are more fearful of old age than of dying. A new survey suggests that one in six Americans do not wish to live past the age of 80, and the main reason for this is negative views surrounding aging.
The telephone survey consisted of over 1,600 people aged 18 to 64. The survey found that one-third of respondents hope to reach the age of 80, one-quarter wish to live into their 90s, and the remainder wishing to live past 100. Blacks were more likely to respond that they want to live past 100.
Hispanics and other ethnic groups that don’t identify as white were more likely to say they did not wish to live past the age of 80. Those who had a negative view of aging were more likely to share this view.
First author Catherine Bowen said, “Having rather bleak expectations of what life will be like in old age seems to undermine the desire to live up to and beyond current levels of average life expectancy. People who embrace the ‘better to die young’ attitude may underestimate their ability to cope with negative age-related life experiences as well as to find new sources of well-being in old age.”
The study was published in Ageing and Society.