A new AARP study finds 69% of boomer women have talked with their parents about how the parents would live independently as they get older. But just 40% of them have actually planned for the possibility their parents may ultimately need assistance.

For financial advisors working with boomer women, the key message of AARP’s findings is that many appear to need guidance on how to help parents prepare to live independently as they age.

In addition, many boomer women are beginning to think about their own care when they are older, in the event they should ever need assistance, AARP found.

About 20% of boomer women say they have thought about a nursing home as an acceptable option for an aging parent, the survey found. AARP notes, however, that one of its previous studies has shown only 1% of people age 50-plus would prefer to live in a nursing home if they needed long term care.

The new study shows 43% of boomer women are “very concerned” and 26% “somewhat concerned” about their parents’ ability to continue living independently as they age.

Older boomer women were most likely to have talked with their parents about the possibility they might ultimately need some help. AARP found that 78% of women 65 and older had had this conversation, compared to 66% of those aged 45 to 54 and 74% of those aged 55 to 64.

Those who had finished college were also more likely to have discussed the issue with their parents, with 77% saying they had talked about it, vs. 64% who had no more than a high school education.

The survey found 68% of boomer women think their parents are financially prepared for any assistance they may need eventually. Again, AARP points out, its past research appears to contradict that belief, finding that people often underestimate the costs of long term care or mistakenly think they are covered by Medicare.

Respondents were asked if they had considered different kinds of living arrangements for their parents, if they ever needed help. The most common expected arrangement was to have their parents move in with them, cited by 43%. Just 17% would consider moving the parent into a nursing home if they were no longer able to be self-reliant. (See chart.)

The ethnicity of respondents also affected some answers. Perhaps the most striking difference was in their views of whether they had considered the possibility of moving parents into a facility that offers assistance with personal care. Just 7% of blacks had considered this possibility, compared to 26% of whites.

As for their own ability to live independently in their senior years, 56% of boomer women said they were concerned about the issue. And 51% said they had thought about how they would pay for any living assistance they might need as they age.

“It’s great that boomer women are talking to their parents about long term care options, but talking is not enough,” observed Elinor Ginzler, AARP director of livable communities. “Not understanding the costs of long term care and not listening to the desires of aging parents can lead to decisions that may not be in anyone’s best interest.”

AARP conducted the survey in late October among 629 females aged 45 or older at least one living parent age 65 or older.

All told, researchers contacted about 2000 boomer-aged women for the survey, finding that 39% had at least one living parent aged no less than 65.