People who have not yet retired think retirement will be easier than it actually is, according to a new poll by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health. The poll shows stark differences between what pre-retirees think retirement will be like and what retirees say is actually the case.

“Those of us over 50 and working are optimistic about our future health and health care, but that optimism is not necessarily shared by those who have already retired,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Many people who have already retired say their health is worse, and they worry about costs of medical treatment and long term care. Insights from the poll can help policymakers and others think about how to meet the needs of aging Americans. There are changes we can make to our health care system, finances, and communities that might help ensure that our retirement years will be as fulfilling as we hope.”

Findings show that a large majority of retirees say life in retirement is the same (44 percent) or better (29 percent) than it was during the five years before they retired. Many retirees say their stress is less, their relationships with loved ones are better, their diet is improved, and the amount of time they spend doing favorite activities is increased—yet 25 percent of retirees say life is worse.

The poll shows only 14 percent of pre-retirees predict that life overall will be worse when they retire, compared with the 25 percent of retirees who say it actually is worse. Only 13 percent of pre-retirees thought their health would be worse, while 39 percent of retirees say it actually is.

Less than a quarter of pre-retirees (22 percent) predict their financial situation will be worse, while a third of retirees (35 percent) said it actually is.

Findings also show that pre-retirees expect to retire later than those who are already retired, and some expect never to fully retire. Sixty percent expect to retire at age 65 or older, while only 26 percent of current retirees said they waited to retire at 65 or older.