Poll Reports Denial About Need for Long Term Care

A recent poll by the AP/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research confirms what many of us who work with seniors already know:  less than one-third of Americans over age 40 have done any planning for the possibility of Long Term Care, and only about a quarter of those  who responded to the poll believe that it is “very likely” that they will need outside help when they reach their senior years.  Of course,  Federal Government figures show that the reverse is true, and that nearly 70% of Americans over age 65 will need some sort of long term care at some point in their lives.

The poll found that even adults who have served as caregivers for other, elderly family members have made few plans for their own care.  Of those who have given it some thought, most believe that family members will step up to help. However, more than half of the respondents admitted that they have never spoken to their family about the possibility, and what kind of care they would like if the need should arise.  They have also not considered how to handle tasks that family members may not be able to do, even if they are willing.  For example, what if the spouse is not physically able to assist with showering?  What if there are medical needs that require a skilled practitioner, such as administering injections or providing physical therapy?  Most poignant of all – what if you outlive your family members, or they are simply not willing to help?

There is no single answer, but there is a universal first step, and that is to have the conversation, first with yourself, and then with your family members.  Think about your overall physical health, and challenges that, even at a younger age, you can anticipate that you will face.  Where (both in terms of geography, and environment) would you want to live, either with your spouse, or on your own?  What can you afford to set aside now, and what financial vehicles are available to help cover the cost of long term care? And what do you think you will be able to afford if you are among the 70% of Americans who do need that care?

Finally, you do not need to think this through, or make these plans, on your own.  Your local Area Agency on Aging  or members of the Life Care Planning Law Firms Association (www.lcplfa.org)  are available to help you with this journey.





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