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Two Thirds of Older Americans Regret Not Taking Care of their Health Earlier

Results also show that while most seniors tend to follow their doctor’s orders (79%), 14% will stray from their advice. The most common advice seniors ignore from their doctors is to exercise frequently (21%), followed by eating nutritious foods (16%).


Two-thirds of Americans 65 and older admit they wish they’d taken their health more seriously when they were younger, according to new research. A survey of 2,000 U.S. older adults looked at how they meet their fitness and health goals and found that 46% admit they don’t have any goals in place for aging well.


Even so, 86% of seniors take their health more seriously now than when they were younger. While almost two in five (39%) say they tend to take a proactive approach to their health, slightly more than a third will seek out their doctor’s advice as soon as they start to feel unwell. Less than a quarter tend to wait out the storm and hope to feel better (22%) or try to remedy the situation themselves (42%).


Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of ClearMatch Medicare, the random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans aged 65+ was commissioned by ClearMatch Medicare between August 31 and September 9, 2023., whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).


The survey showed that a whopping 81% of seniors admit their health could be better, despite the average respondent exercising about five times per week. While 42% exercise most frequently inside their homes, a quarter exercise outside, and 15% still go to the gym.


Over seven in 10 seniors (71%) are getting their steps in and walking to stay in shape. Others lift weights (25%), bike (20%), run (20%), or even do yoga (19%). Half (51%) do have health or fitness-related goals and, over the past 12 months, have been successful in meeting goals pertaining to exercising more often (43%), drinking more water (34%), taking vitamins (28%), and getting more sleep (15%).


Results also show that while most seniors tend to follow their doctor’s orders (79%), 14% will stray from their advice. The most common advice seniors ignore from their doctors is to exercise frequently (21%), followed by eating nutritious foods (16%). Others ignored scheduled doctor appointments regularly (13%) or recommendations to take certain medications (12%).


“Many seniors have expressed regrets about not prioritizing their health in their younger years. However, the data unequivocally demonstrates that it’s never too late to start,” says Ben Pajak, CEO of ClearMatch Medicare, a part of HealthPlanOne, LLC, in a statement.


Currently, the average senior visits their doctor about three times a year. In the past, barriers like a fear of what the doctor might tell them (20%) and lack of motivation (18%) have stood in the way of actually attending the visit. Today, however, almost one-third (30%) believe that they would visit their doctor less frequently now if they had taken better care of their health when they were younger.


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