Poll Shows Most Americans Don't Want to Live in a Nursing Home

You probably are not surprised that most Americans have no interest in ever living in a nursing home. Yet, you probably have not taken any steps to address the costs and burdens of future aging and changing health to help avoid it.

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Poll Shows Most Americans Don't Want to Live in a Nursing Home
3 Min Read December 27th, 2021 Updated:April 9th, 2022

Do you want to live in a nursing home in the future? Few people would answer yes, but the John A. Hartford Foundation (JAHF) asked that question in a poll of adults aged 50 and older. The results should not surprise anyone.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said they would be unwilling to live in a nursing home in the future, making many people question the remaining 29%! The COVID-19 virus crisis has affected most people's perceptions of nursing homes, as 57% indicated that the pandemic had influenced their views on nursing homes.

Assisted living is another story. There are nearly 30,000 assisted living facilities that operate in the United States alone. In Canada and throughout the United Kingdom, assisted living and other non-nursing home types of nursing homes exist. Australia and New Zealand also have these types of non-nursing homes that help with daily living activities or light dementia supervision in a less institutional setting than a traditional nursing home. 

Many assisted living facilities are set up for independent living with the capacity for elevated levels of care as a care recipient requires it. Plus, an independent spouse can live with the spouse who needs care in most assisted living facilities - something that would never be done in a nursing home. 

71% of older adults are unwilling to live in a nursing home in the future

COVID-19 Put Long-Term Care into the Spotlight

One thing is for sure, news stories about COVID-19 and nursing homes brought the issues of long-term care and nursing homes into full view of more people than ever before. 

Most of the poll's respondents (54%) thought that nursing homes were safe despite saying they would be unwilling to live in one. Only 48% of the respondents said they were somewhat satisfied with the options available if they or a family member needed nursing care now.

The poll did not address in-home long-term care, adult day care centers, assisted living facilities, or memory care facilities. Claims data compiled by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance shows that 73% of LTC Insurance benefits pay for in-home care. Those with insurance benefits and have a choice of care are choosing something other than nursing homes. 

The JAHF poll seems to match another recent poll conducted by the Nationwide Retirement Institute. That poll showed that 60% of baby boomers would rather die than live in a nursing home. The JAHF poll indicated that 84% of those surveyed say significant changes are needed in nursing homes.

While there are efforts to improve the design of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, most people would rather avoid them. Fewer people than ever before deny the risk of needing care as they get older and experience changes in their health, body, and mind. However, many people avoid planning for this risk before it becomes a family crisis.

Greater Awareness Should Lead to Planning

There seems to be a greater awareness of long-term health care, but that has not translated to more people wanting to control their own destiny and put in place a plan to avoid a nursing home and the financial strain and burden that long-term health care places on family members. 

Avoiding a nursing home requires a lot of money you are willing to spend or family members who can quit their jobs and responsibilities to become your caregiver. 

Health insurance, including Medicare, will not pay for most long-term care services. While Medicaid will pay for long-term health care, care is usually delivered in a nursing home and requires the care recipient to have little or no income and assets.

That leaves Long-Term Care Insurance which provides guaranteed tax-free resources to pay for your choice of care services, including in-home care. 

We are seeing rising costs for long-term health care services throughout the country, be it at nursing homes or in-home care services - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News. The costs are expected to climb even more in the decades ahead and will put an additional financial strain on the budgets of American families. 

LTC Insurance Gives You Choice of Care - Including Home Care

There are several reasons people don't purchase Long-Term Care Insurance. Indeed, many people think they will never require care services. For some reason, they believe they are immune from aging and declining health and the frailty that comes with getting older. 

Some people are unaware that Long-Term Care Insurance pays for in-home care. Why would you buy an insurance policy that only pays for nursing homes? While policies often only covered nursing homes decades ago, this is not the case today. 

Some people think the government pays for long-term care services - or believe they will in the future. There is no indication that federal or state governments have the resources to pay for everyone's long-term health care. Medicaid is already in place to pay for those with little or no income and assets. But for those with savings, the idea that the government has the resources to pay is implausible. 

Finally, too many consumers and financial professionals think LTC Insurance is too expensive. When purchased before your retirement, Long-Term Care Insurance is affordable for most people if they are in reasonably good health. 

Long-Term Care Insurance is working well for policyholders. In 2021, the top insurance companies paid over $12.3 billion in Long-Term Care Insurance benefits, much of it paying for services at home. Most people purchase their coverage in their 50s but be sure to seek the help of a qualified specialist since premiums vary over 100%.

You have a choice if you want to avoid a nursing home in the future. Being dependent on family caregivers is not an ideal plan for either you or the caregiver. Imagine your daughter or daughter-in-law helping you shower, taking you to the bathroom, and other 'personal' items that can be physically demanding and emotionally hard for everyone. 

When people have Long-Term Care Insurance, they usually use the benefits right away, providing them with a better quality of life and stabilizing the situation. When individuals use their own personal savings to pay for professional care or become dependent on their family to be caregivers, they typically delay care, resulting in a progression of their needs and often forcing them into a nursing home. 

Being prepared will give you choice and control and help you avoid the place few people ever want - living in a nursing home.

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About the Author

Linda Kople is a freelance writer with a personal family history in long-term care. She specializes in aging-related topics such as caregiving, health, and retirement planning. Her experiences and interests drive her to explore and write about the various aspects of aging and health issues.

LTC News Contributor Linda Kople

Linda Kople

Contributor since October 31st, 2017

Editor's Note

You want to avoid a nursing home when you get older. You probably don't want to spend a significant amount of your income and assets to pay for long-term health care. Plus, few people want to place the future responsibility of caregiving on their families as that job is physically and emotionally demanding. 

Do you have a plan? There is no such thing as self-insuring. You may think you can 'self-fund' ... but you must set aside a tremendous amount of money to accomplish that goal. You will not know when you will need care which is a complication of self-funding. You would be using your own money that could be used for other things before you ever need care and be left to children, grandchildren, or even charities after you are gone. 

Don't forget somebody will still need to decide which account to liquidate and determine the type of care you will receive - you will not be making those decisions. 

Long-Term Care Insurance helps you avoid dependency, safeguards income and assets, gives you the choice of quality care options, and gives your loved ones the time to be family instead of caregivers. 

The time to obtain coverage is before retirement; most people do so in their 50s. 

Get Expert Assistance in Planning

Long-term care is a very specialized area, and few insurance agents and financial advisors have the expertise. Seek the help of a specialist who represents the top companies. 

Experts recommend seeking the help of a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find the right coverage. A specialist will match your age, health, and family history with the right coverage at the right price. 

Top specialists will often have over 500 clients with Long-Term Care Insurance, some in the thousands. This experience is necessary as every company has its own underwriting criteria. Plus, premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. 

A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

LTC NEWS Offers Many Planning Tools and Resources 

Planning for the future is never easy, but long-term health care planning can be very complicated and comes with many emotions. Getting the right tools and resources will make the process much easier.

One of the goals is to reduce the stress and anxiety usually placed on your family at the time of crisis. LTC NEWS can be beneficial in providing you with important information for you to consider.

LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

Finding Quality Care for Mom or Dad

If your family is already in crisis and you need to find help for mom or dad, LTC NEWS can help. We have put together several comprehensive guides to help you in your process.

Start by reading our four guides -  

If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea. 

Get Help in Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim

Many insurance companies have issued Long-Term Care Insurance policies over the years. Filing a claim can sometimes be complicated unless you know what to do or get expert help and assistance. 

Don't allow the claim process to stop you from using the benefits available in an LTC policy. Quality care obtained early will help provide a better quality of life and reduce the risk of a deep decline and facility care. 

If you need help in starting the process of a Long-Term Care Insurance claim, LTC NEWS can help. LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you, or a loved one complete the claims process with a Long-Term Care Insurance policy. We have teamed up with Amada Senior Care, who will do all the work - free with no obligation. 

Get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News

Benefits of Reverse Mortgages 

Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance. You might be eligible at younger ages as well. 

Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, and even help with cash flow during your retirement. 

Learn more by asking questions to an expert. LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages. 

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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You can write a story or ongoing column for LTC NEWS. You can write about many topics, including aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, retirement planning, and long-term care, to name a few.

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Email your story idea or article: newsroom@ltcnews.com - LTC News Contributors | LTC News

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