new survey from AARP finds that just over half of Americans in their 70s (51%) and 80s (52%) rate their financial situation today as excellent or very good. When these same age groups were asked if their personal financial situation in the past decade had improved significantly, 18% of respondents in their 70s and 16% in their 80s said yes.

The “Second Half of Life Study,” conducted with National Geographic, surveyed thousands of adults aged 18 to 90 to explore how Americans perceive their current life, their expectations for the future and aging in general as we emerge from the COVID pandemic.

About two-thirds of adults over 80 said that they were living their “best possible life” or close to it, compared with just 1 in 5 younger adults. Other highlights:

  • While people recognize some of the challenges that come with aging, many have an optimistic outlook and expect their lives to improve as they grow older.
  • Health is more of a dynamic concept than a standard experience and experiences evolve with age. — expectations are driven by experience and experiences evolve with age
  • Relationships become more of a central feature and a source of purpose and joy as we age, particularly when we move into retirement years.
  • Wealth and retirement concerns are secondary to health concerns in the second half of life. Reported concern over finances decreases people to take more control of their time — in latter decades. Retirement allows they choose to spend more time with loved ones and engage in hobbies.
  • Overall health, financial security , and relationships may collectively predict independent living. Housing preferences illustrate the importance of relationships and being close to people we love. It is also to gain access to support as many feel they will need friends and family as they grow older.
  • Generally, people are not overly concerned with how long they will live, and as they live longer, it becomes less of a concern. Death isn’t to be feared, but it is important to prepare.
  • Fear of death diminishes with age. There is a desire to minimize the burden (on others) and pain and to be at peace.