Not so wise after all? 1 in 9 seniors admit they still don’t have life figured out

New survey reveals a quarter of adults over 65 say relying on other people is the ‘scariest part of aging’

NEW YORK — Although age brings wisdom, one in nine Americans seniors 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 of the answers, although more than half said that everyone expects them to (57%).

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 agree that decision-making is actually harder as they get older (17%).

Decision-making as a senior

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

Two-thirds of seniors said they consult others before making a big decision (67%), but this isn’t always an easy task. Twenty-six percent said relying on others is one of the scariest parts of aging (26%).

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).

Stressed, depressed older man in bed
(© Monkey Business –

Respondents said they’d also ask for help when it comes to 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 percent have found themselves in a situation where they committed to something that wasn’t right for them.

Respondents struggle with different parts of everyday life such as finding a workout routine that suits their needs (20%) or nailing down their own 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 get older, making an informed Medicare decision is crucial for your health and financial well-being,” explains CEO of ClearMatch Medicare, Ben Pajak, in a statement. “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.”

Seniors wish they could ‘test-drive’ life

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 to even 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 percent of seniors said they’d change their health insurance after realizing their plan wasn’t a match for them.

“It’s clear that seniors are constantly on the hunt to find their ‘perfect match’ in all areas of life,” says vice president of sales at HealthPlanOne, Jennifer Girdler, in a statement. “In fact, 55 percent 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.”

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).

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About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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  1. Show me someone who says they have life figured out and I will prove them a liar

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