NPR: Baby Boomers’ ‘Delusions’ About Health In Retirement
Most baby boomers say they're looking forward to a healthy and active retirement, according to a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.
But some experts worry that when it comes to the realities of their health, boomers are still woefully unprepared — or worse, in denial.
There's a striking mismatch between how healthy people think they will be in retirement, and what current retirees are now experiencing. That's the view of Jeff Goldsmith, a health care futurist and author of The Long Baby Boom: An Optimistic Vision for a Graying Generation, a book about aging baby boomers.
Goldsmith says this extraordinary optimism in people approaching retirement is pure self-delusion.
For example, Goldsmith says the poll found that only 13 percent of people over age 50 -- but not yet retired -- say they expect their health to be worse in retirement than it now is.
Yet -- nearly 40 percent of people who ARE retired -- two out of every five -- say their health is worse now than it was in the five years before they retired. They weren't expecting it to be this way and they weren't ready for it.
"Hello," says Goldsmith. "That's what getting older is eventually about. We're all going to have serious health problems in retirement, and eventually really serious health problems."
Goldsmith and other geriatrics experts say this gap between boomers' personal health expectations and retirement realities is what's driving Medicare and Medicaid costs sky high.
It's also just more proof of the need for people to take better care of themselves in their working years, so they can go into retirement in good health with realistic hopes of living a long and healthy life.