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Mature Women: False Confidence About Health/Finances; Good Attitude About Aging

Study shows gaps between perception and real life among mature women

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A landmark survey has discovered that many mature women have a false sense of confidence that does not fit their reality in areas like finances and health.

There is good news, however. Mature women’s beliefs about aging are changing for the better.

About the Mature Women Survey
“Looking at Act II of Women's Lives: Thriving and Striving from 45 On” was conducted by Roper for the AARP Foundation’s Women's Leadership Circle, and is based on interviews with mature women across the country. The survey highlights the need for programs that improve the quality of life for women 45 and older.

"The findings provided us with significant insight into the mindset of a multi-generational, multicultural society of women, and will be used to develop targeted new programs to address their issues," said Robin Talbert, executive director of the AARP Foundation.

Mature Women Have Misperceptions about Money
Much of the study revealed a sense of false confidence among many women 45+ as it perceptions with day-to-day realities of financial issues such as savings, retirement planning and emergency funds.

  • While 61 percent of mature women are confident they will have enough money to enjoy life in their later years, the majority (62 percent) don't have a long-term spending plan for when they retire.
  • 90 percent of the mature women surveyed said they would rely on Social Security to some degree as retirement income, making this the most common single source of income for women in their later years.
  • In a financial emergency, 73 percent of mature women said they always or sometimes have a few thousand dollars available, but when asked about obtaining funds,
    • 22 percent said they didn't know where they would get the money
    • 35 percent would use their savings
    • 6 percent said they have "no way of paying the unexpected bill"

Mature Women Need Support to Improve Their Own Health

  • Nine of ten women 45+ (91 percent) say they are confident they are doing all they can to stay as healthy as possible, although one in three (32 percent) feel the cost of health care or prescriptions drugs sometimes prevents them from seeing a doctor or getting treatment when they need it
  • Nearly three in ten mature women said that caring for other people leaves them with too little time for taking care of their own health (28 percent)
  • 58 percent said they would be more likely to exercise if they had a buddy or friend to exercise with them

Mature Women Are Changing How They Think About Aging
The report also discovered the heartening news that mature women, who are often catalysts of social shifts, have begun to challenge and change the perception, image, and language of aging among themselves.

  • 84 percent said they know of at least one woman older than themselves whom they consider to be a personal inspiration.
  • The majority of mature women consider themselves happier now than they have ever been (65 percent). This strongly deflates the myth that the older women become, the less happy they are.
  • 77 percent of women 45+ consider their older years a time for pursuing dreams and doing things they have always wanted to do.

Two New Programs for Mature Women
"Since our research clearly indicates that women are more inclined to exercise with a buddy than alone, we will develop a socialization and exercise program to give women the added incentive of partnering with a friend to improve not only her health but her friend's as well," Talbert said.

"We also plan to launch a program that will encourage women to sign up for 401(k) plans through automatic enrollment. This will give women the opportunity to pay themselves first and begin to save."

About the AARP Foundation Women's Leadership Circle
The AARP Foundation Women's Leadership Circle is a diverse group of women from across the country whose varied backgrounds, insights and experiences have created a network to help mature women as they age.

"In launching the AARP Foundation Women's Leadership Circle, we are harnessing the collective power and experience of an amazing community of women leaders who will work to raise national awareness of issues affecting women as they age, such as economic security, health and the image of aging," Talbert said.

Bank of America will contribute $1 million in the next four years toward Women's Leadership Circle programs.

About the AARP Foundation
The AARP Foundation is AARP's affiliated charity, offering programs designed to provide security, protection and empowerment for older persons in need. Programs are funded by grants, tax-deductible contributions and AARP, and include:

Read the full report: “Looking at Act II of Women's Lives: Thriving and Striving from 45 On” (PDF file)

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