The need for long-term care is becoming inevitable for many, yet so few make plans or even talk about it.
Despite the growing awareness that long-term care is increasingly needed among the elderly – according to the U.S. health department 70% of adults after the age of 65 will need long-term care – a new study from Genworth Financial, Inc. further confirmed the lack of preparedness surround long-term care.
“Today if you make it to 65 and more and more people – 10,000 a day – are turning 65, the odds are you’ll make it well into your 80s even your early 90s,” said Tom McInerney, president and CEO of Genworth, during a panel event in New York to discuss the results of Genworth’s long-term Care Planning and Aging Needs study. “I don’t think people have ever had to think about [spending] 30 years or so in retirement.”
While talking about future care is the first step in creating a plan, Genworth’s study found that people aren’t talking.
One out of every four adults would rather go to the dentist than talk about their long-term care or aging needs, according to the study. And fewer than 30% of adults have had a conversation about planning for their long-term care or aging needs.
“Around 70% to 80% of middle-income Americans are very ill-prepared to: One, make their retirement dollars last through retirement, but also be prepared to the extent that they are one of the unlucky ones that have a major health issue [requiring LTC],” McInerney said.
A recent Northwestern Mutual study also addressed the lack of people including long-term care needs within their retirement plans. Northwestern Mutual’s 2014 Long-Term Care Study found that about one in four (26%) of those surveyed said family members have addressed long-term care needs within their retirement plans.
Barbara Nusbaum, psychologist and money coach, discussed the psychological and emotional strain that comes with planning for long-term care.
“We all know we’re going to get old,” she said. “We all know we’re going to age. We know our parents are aging. And we still get stymied and we don’t plan. It’s fascinating: The one thing we know we’re all going to do is age, yet we don’t plan for it.”
Emotions tend to get in the way of discussions, Nusbaum believes. The study also found there are more negative emotions attached to discussing one’s long-term care needs than positive. Genworth found that more than 60% of adults have a negative emotion – such as feelings of anxiety and fear, sadness and depression, or confusion and overwhelmed – associated with discussing future LTC or aging needs.
“Think about your parents or grandparents or even yourself. If you’re older or you get ill, and who wants to think about this?” she said. “[Does] anybody want to think about yourself being frail or having Alzheimer’s? That’s why we don’t plan. Because we just shut down. It’s overwhelming.”