What You Need to Know
- Only about a quarter of those 65 or older will need three years or more of medium- or high-intensity care.
- The study breaks down care needs by both the duration and intensity of care required.
- Black people are the most likely to need the highest level of care.
It may seem that getting older means living in long-term care is a certainty, but that isn’t necessarily the case. A new paper from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that roughly a quarter of retirees will need a high level of long-term services and support (LTSS), but 20% of retirees won’t need any support.
Further, the paper also found 22% of retirees will have low LTSS needs, while 38% will have moderate needs.
The purpose of the study was to understand the future health needs of retirees. It states that a recent study estimated that a 65-year-old has a 7 in 10 chance of developing a “severe” need for LTSS, but that “masks tremendous variation in the duration and intensity of the required support,” it stated.
The study used two decades of data on actual LTSS experiences by Health and Retirement Study participants. It broke the level of care needed into four levels — none, low, moderate and severe — accounting for both the intensity of care and the time the care was needed.
This first part of a three-part study released in June described the risks of support for health issues retirees will need, breaking down their findings by marital status, education, race and by self-reported health status. Severe disabilities — as defined from an HRS survey of Americans over age 50 to determine LTSS care needs — required three years of more of medium- or high-intensity care.
A Closer Look
The paper found that married people who tended to be wealthier and “enjoy the support of a spouse” were less likely to need LTSS, and “less likely to experience severe needs than unmarried individuals,” although not by much.