Felician Announces Results of Study on Aging in America

Researchers at Felician University in New Jersey announced the results of a study on college student perceptions on aging during the American Society on Aging Conference in Chicago.  Aging Expectations, Attitudes and Perceptions found that the majority of students anticipate being active and living in their own home independently with financial security beyond the age of 85, but over 71% had not yet started planning for their older years. 

As a result of this study, Felician University is looking to expand and replicate the study at other colleges to gather more information about students and the optimal onset of planning for one’s older years. That information will then be integrated into courses taught at the University.       

“Teaching students life skills across the lifespan is the responsibility of a University,” said Dr. Anne Prisco, President of Felician University.  Course work would include banking and financial planning, investments, housing markets, mortgages and estate planning, types of insurance (car, life, health, long-term care), wills, power of attorney and tax liabilities. 

The study – which was conducted on undergraduate and graduate students at Felician in 2015 – underscores how little research has been done on college students and their own aging expectations. It also highlights how important it will be to develop more economic, health and social policies and programs for that group. The elderly population (65+) is expected to grow 68.7% from 2012 to 2032, meaning an increasing number of older adults who will face a critical demand for health services, transitional housing, transportation, and financial support services.

With the exception of living independently, the majority of respondents chose the “Unsure” category when asked about their future living conditions, which included modifications to housing, the need for a live-in-caregiver, living with adult children or family members, relocation to independent living, assisted living, nursing home, and living in another state.

When asked about Activities of Daily Living, the majority responded that they anticipate the need for assistance after the age of 85. However, they plan to remain active by attending theater, movies, socializing with friends, and attending senior citizen clubs and social events. They were not sure if they would be able to continue to play golf, tennis or other sport activities. 

Other key findings included:
  • Intending to have enough money to live independently until the age 85 and beyond.
  • Being unsure at what age they would need federal/state assistance to stay in own home.
  • Even distribution regarding the need for companionship to avoid loneliness and a feeling of isolation at age 85+, or unsure.  
  • Expecting to need support services (home-health aide, Visiting Nurse, and social service information and referrals for services provided by the community, county and state) at the age of 85+. 
  • Owning and driving a car until the age of 75 to 84 and depending on neighbors, friends, and community transportation services after the age of 85.
  • Unsure at what age financial planning help would be needed for elder years.
  • Would consider themselves “old” at 65. 

The research study was conducted by the Felician University Institute for Gerontology in response to concerns from those currently working with older adults dealing with health, financial, and housing issues that were exacerbated by a lack of planning.

“The story is too familiar,” said Phil Scalo, President and CEO of Bartley Healthcare, and member of the Advisory Board for the Institute of Gerontology, who frequently hears “I never thought about my needs later in life – that I could one day realize I am now an older adult and never anticipated, or planned, for what I will be facing.”

Funding for the Institute for Gerontology Research Study was provided by Felician University and the St. Francis Fund of Felician Services, Inc.