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Northwestern: Knowledge Gap Bigger Than Denial Gap

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Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company has found evidence that U.S. residents may be quicker to recognize the need for long-term care (LTC) planning that many in the LTC insurance community realize.

The company has published figures on LTC awareness in a summary of results from an online survey of 2,194 U.S. adults ages 18 and older that was conducted in October.

The company found that the participants who describe themselves as caregivers for other adults and participants who are not caregivers gave similar answers to many basic awareness questions.

Only 16% of the caregivers said they agreed with the statement, “I do not believe I will ever need long-term care” – but only 18% of the non-caregivers said they agreed with the statement.

Similarly, 22% of the caregivers agreed with the statement that, “I think being a caregiver will be easier in the future,” but only 19% of the non-caregivers agreed with the statement.

About 88% of the caregivers and 74% of the non-caregivers agreed that, “As people live longer, the need for long-term care planning is greater.”

The gap was bigger for questions dealing with concrete knowledge and concrete actions.

About 32% of the caregivers, and just 20% of the non-caregivers, said their parents have addressed the need for LTC planning.

The likelihood that survey participants had discussed LTC options with friends and relatives was 43% for caregivers and only 23% for non-caregivers.

When pollsters asked whether participants agreed with the statement, “I understand my options and resources available when it comes to long-term care planning,” the gap was 21 percentage points, with 56% of the caregivers saying they understand their options and only 34% of the non-caregivers saying they know what to do about LTC planning.