Denial, Ignorance, and Procrastination All Stand in the Way of Long-Term Care Solutions

Despite common sense and observation, many people still think they will somehow avoid the problems of aging. The risk of long-term care is real, and planning is essential to a successful future retirement.

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Denial, Ignorance, and Procrastination All Stand in the Way of Long-Term Care Solutions
6 Min Read June 1st, 2021

Some people don’t want to listen. If you are talking about facts, you will quickly understand that longevity, and the consequences of aging have adverse effects on American families and finances. Long-term health care has been a problem for some time, well before it was in the news because of the COVID-19 virus crisis. With 10,000 Americans turning age 65 every day, the 65+ age group will represent more than 20 percent of the population in the coming years.

American families get their lives turned upside down every day when a parent or other loved one requires long-term health care. Sometimes it has been a slow decline of health, body, and mind. In other situations, it is a dramatic event, a stroke, fall, or another immediate health issue that requires a person to need help with daily activities. 

People require long-term care services due to an illness, accident, or the impact of aging. Many chronic health conditions will result in the need for extended care. Many of these chronic health problems are increasing due to the number of people living into their 80s and beyond, like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer, and heart disease.

Changing Health and Aging is a Significant Issue

Physical disabilities are much more likely among older people. Experts report that about a quarter of those aged 65 to 74 and half of those 75 and older live with a disability. This total encompasses over 17 million Americans who will need long-term care services and supports.

AARP research shows that about half of adults age 40-plus (47 percent) incorrectly believe Medicare covers long-term care services. Most long-term care is custodial care - help with daily living activities or supervision due to memory loss. Custodial care represents most long-term health care but is not covered by health insurance, including Medicare. Medicaid will pay for custodial care, but you must have little or no assets to qualify for the program. 

Long-Term Care Insurance will pay for long-term custodial care (in addition to skilled and semi-skilled services), yet many people think they don't need the insurance or seek coverage once it is too late. LTC Insurance is medically underwritten, so it is best to obtain coverage in your 40s or 50s when you still enjoy reasonably good health.  

Most People Don’t Plan for Long-Term Care

The AARP reports that fewer than 3 in 10 have planned for their future long-term care needs even though they have completed wills, set aside money for funerals, and discussed other end-of-life issues.

Recent polling reveals that the virus crisis has prompted just 20 percent of adults age 40-plus to consider the long-term care needs of their older relatives; however, only 15 percent have thought about it for themselves.

Many experts find this disappointing because of the physical, emotional, and financial consequences of long-term health care on family and finances.

Long-Term Care Costs Increasing Due to Demand and Labor Costs

The financial consequences can be dramatic. The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator says long-term care services are increasing getting costlier every year. Most long-term care is delivered outside nursing homes; however, in-home care is getting more expensive every year because of rising labor costs. Adult day care centers and assisted living and memory care facilities are also seeing rising costs. 

There are federal tax incentives available for Long-Term Care Insurance, but most people will not qualify. Those who do qualify for tax incentives, like business owners and the self-employed, often fail to think about long-term care until it is too late. 

An LTC NEWS survey of top Long-Term Care Insurance specialists indicated that denial was one of the top reasons they cited for consumers to fail to plan for long-term care. The other primary reason is the perceived high cost of the insurance. 

LTC Insurance is Affordable

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) premium survey reports that a 55-year-old male can obtain solid coverage for under $120 a month. Women, who are at higher risk for long-term care due to longevity, will pay a little more. Spousal and good health discounts are available with many companies.

However, premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. An individual may falsely believe a policy is out of reach when, in fact, it is very affordable.  

You might want to wait before you start planning for long-term health care. You would not be alone; however, if you wait until after age 60, you have a substantially higher chance of being declined for coverage, according to the AALTCI. 

Waiting After 60 Limited Options

Once you reach age 40, you have already noticed changes in your health and body. Once you get past 60, the concern for cognitive decline increases. Waiting until "you need it" is waiting too late.

If you think your spouse or adult children will become your caregivers, you better think again. The role of a caregiver is physically and emotionally demanding. They have or will have their own careers and families to consider. 

Your spouse will not be in a good position to be a caregiver as they usually will be older themselves. The job is hard for younger people, harder for older people. Research indicates that the caregiver's physical and mental health decline because of the pressure and stress of being a caregiver.

Families and Finances Impacted

Then consider family strife. Families often find themselves disagreeing on how a parent will be taken care of and which sibling will be responsible.

Perhaps the best option is to understand the reality of long-term care. Once you know that you are, like everyone, at risk of needing help, you should develop a plan to address the costs and burdens that come with changing health and aging. 

Seek the assistance of a trained and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist. A true specialist will represent the major companies and understand the many different available options. They can navigate the underwriting, and pricing can match you with the best coverage at the best value.

Find a trusted and experienced specialist by clicking here

Too Many in Denial

In 2013 Bruce Allen Chernof, MD, FACP, president and CEO of the SCAN Foundation, wrote

It is no secret that Americans are aging, but what is too often lost in this fact is that most people will need help as they grow older. Unfortunately, America does not have a strategy to deal with this growing demand. For some, this help comes in the form of needing just a little bit of assistance in the home with cooking meals or getting groceries. For others, it is more comprehensive daily help in assisted living or nursing home care.

Chernof says this is not a discussion about death but rather a conversation about life. The discussion of changing health needs and the physical struggles of aging is one of the most important tasks you will have. 

He says that 30 percent of Americans would rather not even think about getting older at all. He writes that this denial about aging and future care needs can be of serious detriment to individuals who are suddenly thrust into a situation in which they need care and do not know where to turn for help.

If you want to safeguard assets, preserve lifestyle and legacy, and ease the stress and anxiety otherwise placed on your family, planning for long-term care should become a priority. Being in denial will mean you will eventually become dependent on others. Avoid denial. Being proactive will provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones. 

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About the Author

Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.

LTC News Contributor Linda Kople

Linda Kople

Contributor since October 31st, 2017

Editor's Note

If you are planning for your retirement, how would you want your family address your future need for long-term health care? As you get older, there is no question that you will experience changes in your health, body, and mind. These changes will increase your need for long-term care services.

Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance will provide guaranteed tax-free resources so you can afford your choice of quality care, including in-home care. Your family will have time to be family. The result will mean more harmony within the family.

Research Tools Available on LTC NEWS

LTC NEWS offers multiple tools and resources to help you research the financial costs and burdens of aging so you can find an affordable solution. 

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One of the best tools is the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator. You can find the current and future costs of long-term health care where you live. This information will help you design an appropriate LTC Insurance policy.

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