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AARP AARP States North Dakota Press

AARP 2023 Vital Voices Study Highlights Needs and Concerns of Older North Dakota Residents


Watch Josh Askvig, AARPND State Director and Dr. Aisha Bonner Cozad, AARP Senior Research Manager discuss the results of the 2023 Vital Voices Survey.

One-third of North Dakotans are 50 or older. In the United States, that number is a mighty 119 million. AARP is committed to ensuring that this group thrives as they age.

That’s why AARP conducts Vital Voices, an ongoing effort by AARP in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to better understand the needs and attitudes of older Americans and assist in the development of programs, policies and resources to support them. In 2023, AARP conducted a survey of 703 people over 45 in North Dakota asking them how they feel about issues such as health care, financial security, energy costs, caregiving, livable communities and more.

North Dakotans provided three primary takeaways summarized here and discussed in greater detail by Josh Askvig, AARP ND State Director and Dr. Aisha Bonner Cozad, Senior Policy Advisor for AARP. Video of their conversation in full and in segments can be accessed here.

Retirement is on their minds (click to watch discussion).  

  • Nine in ten believe having enough income or savings to retire is extremely or very important.
  • 87% say having adequate Social Security benefits is important – a four-point increase since 2020.
  • 65% are concerned they won’t have enough to retire; and
  • One-third of respondents feel they are behind in saving for retirement

Our work around retirement:

  • Social Security: We’re actively engaging with North Dakotans about the importance of Social Security and how to protect it moving forward.
  • Utility costs: AARP ND is only organization at the table fighting for consumers when utility companies propose increasing costs.
  • Fraud awareness: We’re raising awareness about scams and frauds and supporting state legislation that provides not only protection, but restitution for victims.
  • Retirement planning: AARP ND offers events and tools to make sure your money lives as long as you do.

Affordable healthcare is important to them (click to watch discussion).  

  • 91% of respondents said that having adequate health insurance is important to them.
  • The importance of being able to afford healthcare expenses (89%) and being able to pay for prescription drugs (83%) have both increased by eight points since 2020.

Our work around healthcare:

  • Fighting to lower prescription drug prices: In 2023, the ND Legislature passed a bill limiting out-of-pocket insulin costs for public employees in ND. We’ll be fighting to see the bill expanded to all North Dakotans moving forward, and supporting federal work to lower prescription drug costs
  • Navigating Medicare: In addition to the many AARP tools available, AARP ND holds Medicare enrollment sessions to help you with this important step.

They want to remain independent and age in place (click to watch discussion).  

  • Over half of respondents rated their communities as good or very good places to live.
  • Seven in ten would prefer to receive care for themselves or a loved one at home.
  • 65% are either currently providing or have provided care in the past to an adult relative or friend.
  • 79% want to have services available to age in place
  • 78% want to say in their home as they age
  • 81% told us that getting places independently is important

Our work in communities and caregiving:

  • Livable communities: We’re working with cities and counties across the state to make our communities places everyone can thrive as they age. We’re supporting public transit expansion, conducting walk audits, collaborating on housing and supporting projects across ND.
  • Community Challenge Grants: Since 2017, the AARP Community Challenge has funded over 1,370 projects nationwide, including 25 grants totaling $214,486 in North Dakota. Past projects have included everything from putting adult exercise equipment in a city park to helping a small-town grocery store shift to self-service. Applications are being accepted through March 6, 2024.
  • Caregiver Support. During the 2023 Legislative Session, AARP ND supported funding for accessible and affordable housing; expanding access to safe and affordable long-term care services, senior nutrition funding, enhancements to the Aging and Disability Resource Link; and increasing resources and support for the 62,000 unpaid North Dakota family caregivers.

“AARP’s new research highlights older North Dakotans voices at a moment when they may not feel heard,” said Josh Askvig, AARP ND State Director. “AARP is listening, and we’ll use these findings to inform our work and help North Dakota have the information they need as they age.”

This is the second round of Vital Voices research that AARP has conducted. From 2019-2021, AARP North Dakota used findings from Vital Voices when meeting with legislators and delivering public testimony and in planning its work in communities.

This new data will once again be provided to community, local, and state leaders, who will be able to use the data to:

  • Highlight the need for a specific program or interest in a particular issue.
  • Enhance program and product innovation and development.
  • Track issues and attitudes over time to assess shifts in public opinion.
  • Take action on critical advocacy issues.

2023 Vital Voices Chartbook

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