Age and Wisdom? 1 in 9 Seniors Say They Still Don’t Have Life Figured Out

Although age brings wisdom, one in nine Americans 64 and older still don’t have life figured out, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 Americans 64 and older dispelled the idea that older people have all the answers, although more than half (57%) said everyone expects them to do just that.

Fifty-four percent of respondents even said they feel like there’s “always” or “often” pressure on them to make the best decisions, and nearly a fifth (17%) agree that decision-making is actually harder as they get older.

One in seven admit they tend to prioritize their wants over their needs, which is where they could use outside help.

Two-thirds of seniors said they consult others before making a big decision, but this isn’t always easy. Twenty-six percent said relying on others is one of the scariest parts of aging.

Conducted by OnePoll for ClearMatch Medicare, the survey found that seniors used to feel most confident about making large financial purchases (29%) and investing (28%) on their own but would now consult others about those decisions beforehand (31%, 35% respectively).

Respondents said they’d also ask for help regarding facets of their health, like choosing a healthcare plan (27%) or changing their diet (18%).

Who to Trust?

To help them make decisions, seniors are most likely to trust their partner (44%), revealing that they’re the least judgmental (31%) and most helpful (32%) person in their life.

Others also put their trust in their children (37%) and friends (29%).

Seniors have struggled to find their “perfect match” in different areas of their lives over the past five years. Even when seeking help, 40% have found themselves in a situation where they committed to something that wasn’t right for them within the past five years.

Respondents struggle with different parts of everyday life, such as finding a workout routine that suits their needs (20%) or nailing down their style (17%).

Health concerns such as finding the right healthcare (20%) and doctor (19%) are also high on their list of instances where they struggle to find “the one.”

“Let’s face it, as we age, making an informed Medicare decision is crucial for your health and financial well-being,” explains Ben Pajak, CEO of ClearMatch Medicare (a part of HealthPlanOne). “But no one should feel alone when making such an important decision. There are options to help you make the right choice; whether you rely on someone you trust or professionals who understand different plans, you can ensure you choose the best coverage options that meet your unique healthcare needs and budget.”

When making these tough choices, mistakes do happen. The average American 64 and older admitted they make the same mistake twice before they learn from it, even leading them to feel “buyer’s remorse” three times within the past year.

Seniors struggle to learn from their mistakes when they overthink the outcome (22%) and can’t figure out what went wrong (21%), while others find it hard even to accept that they were wrong (18%) and struggle to find a workable solution (17%).

In the case of making mistakes, respondents shared the top three things to take away: understanding what didn’t work (28%), recognizing what could have been done better (28%), and keeping an open mind (23%).

To help them make the right decision, seniors shared that they wish they could have test-drove their apartment (18%), life path (22%), and even their doctor (23%) before making a decision.

If they had the chance, 67% of seniors said they’d change their health insurance after realizing their plan didn’t match them.

“It’s clear that seniors are constantly on the hunt to find their ‘perfect match’ in all areas of life,” says Jennifer Girdler, vice president of sales at HealthPlanOne. “In fact, 55% of those who have health insurance said they'd jump on a ‘second chance’ to switch their plan to one that better suits them in 60 days or less. Many people might not know, but the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period, which currently runs through March 31, is the time to help those in a Medicare Advantage plan make one more change before the fall annual enrollment period. This is your second chance at finding the right match.”

What Would Seniors Prefer to Test Drive First?

  1. Cars — 33%
  2. Electronics — 24%
  3. Doctors — 23%
  4. Life path — 22%
  5. Restaurants — 19%
  6. Appliances/furniture — 18%
  7. Apartments/homes — 18%
  8. Partner — 18%
  9. Clothes — 17%
  10. Insurance — 16%

Seniors’ Advice for Correcting Your Mistakes

  • “Accept the fact that you made a mistake, find the right solution, and move on.”
  • “After you figure out the source of your issue, then ask yourself how to get where you prefer to be. Then sleep on it, and the answer will come eventually.”
  • “Be humble, do not feel shame. Own your mistakes apologize sincerely, and move on.”
  • “Calm yourself and look at the whole picture before coming to terms with the situation.”
  • “Do not let pride get in the way.”
  • “Don't be afraid to ask for help. Trust your judgment but ask others to help when needed.”
  • “Think about both positive and negative consequences for any important decision.
  • “Just roll with the punches, and don’t second guess yourself! Enjoy what’s left of your life!”
  • “If you always do what you've done, you will get what you always got.
  • “Rethink the pros and cons of the situation.”

Survey Methodology

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans 64+ was commissioned by ClearMatch Medicare between Feb. 16 and Feb. 21, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, 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).

This post was produced by Talker News and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.