One thing becomes clear when reading the results of the recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research study on adults’ perceptions of their future long-term care needs: we are not ready. As a country, we underestimate the type and cost of care we’ll need, and overestimate the amount of government support we’ll receive to cover that cost.
Supported by the SCAN Foundation, the study interviewed US adults age 40 and older about their understanding of the long-term care system. According to a press release:
The survey reveals that while there is widespread concern among this population about the need for long-term care, little is being done to plan for it.
“It is estimated that 70 percent of Americans who reach the age of 65 will need some form of long-term care for an average of three years each,” said Trevor Tompson, director of the AP-NORC Center. “The rapidly aging population brings with it important social and public policy questions about preparing for and providing quality long-term care. This survey establishes what Americans 40 and over understand about the need for long-term care and reveals troubling facts about what is being done to prepare for it.”
- 53% of respondents are, or have been, a caregiver for a loved one, yet a third said that aging was “something they’d rather not think about.”
- 48% thought that almost everyone would need some form of aid, but only 24% thought they would personally be likely to need assistance.
- 40% of respondents felt only somewhat confident and one third are not at all confident in their financial resources.
- A majority of respondents overestimated the cost of Assisted Living (36%) and underestimated the cost of skilled nursing facilities (31%).
- 55% thought that health insurance would pay the largest amount of long-term costs, and a majority overestimated what Medicare covers.
As a senior care provider, you may be more aware of what the long-term care landscape will look like than the average citizen. What can you do to help educate your community-at-large about long-term care? If you are a CALA member, you have access to a series of pre-written speeches tackling subjects like “Dispelling Myths About Aging” and “Economic Benefits of Assisted Living.” Get in touch with community groups such as Rotary or Chambers of Commerce–let them know you are available to speak on this hot-button issue. If you’re not yet a member but would like access to these valuable tools, consider joining. With your efforts, these myths can be dispelled and we can take steps together to prepare for the future.