NU Online News Service, Nov. 17, 2004, 4:59 p.m. EST

Spouses might be a long term care insurance agent’s best friends.[@@]

A unit of MetLife Inc., New York, has published data supporting that conclusion in a report on a survey of 1,000 U.S. residents over age 50 conducted in August by researchers at Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Washington.

The researchers found that spouses have much more pessimistic views about their husbands’ and wives’ ability to live alone than the husbands and wives have.

Most of the men and women surveyed believe they are prepared to live alone if their spouses die, and 83% of the men say their wives would be prepared to live alone.

But only 67% of the women surveyed said they thought their husbands were prepared to live alone.

Only 7% of the men thought they were unprepared to manage their own health care, and only 11% of the men thought they were unprepared to maintain activities outside the home. About 14% of the men said they were unprepared to handle cooking.

But 25% of the women thought their husbands were unprepared to manage their health care, 24% were worried about their husbands’ ability to stay active outside the home, and 27% were worried about their husbands’ ability to cook.

Other study findings:

- 21% of the survey participants believed, incorrectly, that they could pay for long term care with Medicare.

- 7% of the men and 9% of the women believed that they could pay for long term care with ordinary health insurance.

MetLife’s MetLife Mature Market Institute sponsored the study together with the health care options of AARP, Washington.