Iowa boomers rate economy ‘good,’ but anxiety increases

By James Q. Lynch, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — Half of Iowa seniors say they’ve postponed or will postpone retirement, see their living expenses increasing faster than their incomes and show a preference for aging in place rather than in nursing homes, according to AARP Iowa survey results released this morning.

The telephone survey of 801 registered voters both retirees and non-retirees — found that voters 50 and older worry a secure retirement could be out of reach.

“On paper, the economy is improving, but for too many older Americans their income isn’t keeping up with their daily costs of living,” said AARP President Nancy LeMond.

Even though 80 percent said the Iowa economy is good, the boomer said they want political candidates to focus on improving their financial security because health care costs and taxes are growing faster than their incomes, according to the poll conducted by Hart Research Associates and North Star Opinion Research.

On another election related question, the survey also found Republican Joni Ernst leading Democrat Bruce Braley in the race for an open U.S. Senate seat with 17 percent undecided. However, her advantage was within the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error.

Fifty-three percent disapprove of President Barack Obama’s job performance and 8 percent approve of the job Congress is doing. Fifty-five percent said the pay too much in taxes.

If there was a surprise in the findings, Hart analyst Rebecca Mark said it was the high percentage of boomers who want to stay in their homes rather than in more costly nursing homes. Even when tasks become too difficult due to age or illness, 71 percent of the 50-plus voters want to receive care in their homes.

“The fact it rises to the same level as Social Security and Medicare in terms of importance shows there is a real appetite to hear more about those issues, more about (candidates’) support for caregivers and their plans to help people age in place,” Mark said.

Mark also was struck that 9 percent said they had experienced age discrimination in the workplace and 20 percent they or someone they know had been discriminated against.

“I think that’s a shocking number that many people 50-plus feel they have experienced discrimination on the job,” she said.

Social Security and Medicare will be key factors in making their choices in the 2014 midterm election with 78 percent saying they would oppose a candidate who would cut the benefits.

Similarly, half say a candidate’s position on Medicare will be critical in choosing who to vote for. Three- quarters want to see their prescription drug costs reduced, but asking seniors to pay more for Medicare services in their last choice.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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