Older Americans Seek Meaning and New Experiences in Retirement Years; Say Health Is the Biggest Factor to Achieving Their Goals

June 26, 2019
  • A new survey finds that top retirement-age worry is losing mobility, cognitive ability or becoming hospitalized

In a new survey, nearly 70% of Americans ages 62 and older said physical health is most important to them as they age, followed in order by cognitive health (16%), social health (13%) and financial health (6%). While most are feeling good and being proactive to maintain or improve their health, nearly all are worried about ending up sick or hospitalized.

To address this, most have made a change in recent years to make themselves feel healthier, with diet and exercise improvements being the top steps people are taking; and 56% say they are working to improve or maintain their mental health.

“The findings of this survey validate what we hear from our members about the value they place on health, and the role health plays in fulfilling their goals as they age,” said Ben Kehl, vice president of member experience, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. “At UnitedHealthcare, we want to be an active partner in helping our members live healthy and feel confident in their health care decisions, so they can focus on living a life they love.”

Top Goals for “Retirement” Years Include Recreation, Socialization, Meaningful Work and Good Health 

The survey shines a light on the new generation of retirement-age Americans – many of whom think of their retirement years not as a time to relax and retire, but as a time to dive into their passions and hobbies, and perhaps even start a new type of employment. Survey respondents said the next stage of their lives is a time for them to:

  • Seek New Experiences. Among those who have goals for retirement, many hope to enjoy extended travel (45%), achieve a fitness-related goal (38%) and get more involved in their community (26%).
  • Be Healthier. Living a healthy life can mean different things – nearly 70% reported starting a new routine to make themselves feel healthier, such as a new diet (40%), fitness routine (34%) or finding volunteer opportunities (11%).
  • Be Social. 75% host or attend social gatherings each month. Among those who are socially active, they attend, on average, five social gatherings per month.
  • Keep Working. 67% have not re-entered the workforce since retirement. However, of those who have re-entered the workforce, 50% wanted to work again to have something on which to focus their energy, while the remaining 50% felt they needed to generate a source of income.

“More than 10,000 people turn 65 each day,[i] and they’re bringing a fresh approach to this phase of life,” said Kehl. “We have a unique opportunity to help these people forge a new path and redefine aging. Understanding the goals of our members enables us to design and deliver programs and services that will help them achieve those goals, whether that means staying active, improving health or navigating complex health care needs.”

Knowing the Medicare-eligible population is varied, both with respect to age and health status, UnitedHealthcare Medicare plans are developed to address personalized needs no matter where someone falls along that continuum. Often that means supporting those who have already taken control of their health through programs like Renew Active, which provides access at no additional cost to participating fitness locations as well as online brain exercises, or guiding others through challenging health care experiences on their journey to better health, through one-on-one support programs like Navigate4Me.

People enrolled in UnitedHealthcare Medicare plans can learn more and take advantage of their specific plan offerings by calling the number on the back of their health card or visiting for more information.

For more ways to improve health and well-being, visit the UnitedHealthcare Newsroom at

Survey Methodology:

The UnitedHealthcare Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults, ages 62+, between March 27 and April 3, 2019, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population ages 62 and older. 

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individualsemployers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with over 1.3 million physicians and care professionals, and more than 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at or follow @UHC on Twitter.

[i] Pew Research Center. Baby Boomers Retire. Published Dec. 29, 2010, at

uhc retirement survey results
According to a recent UnitedHealthcare survey, older adults say health is the biggest factor to achieving goals in retirement (Source: UnitedHealthcare).