With long-term care awareness month in full throttle, Genworth Financial, Richmond, Va., is getting a read on what most concerns consumers when they think of their possible long-term care needs.
The study, “Our Family, Our Future: The Heart of Long Term Care Planning,” conducted an online survey of 2,151 U.S. adults 18 and over.
Overwhelmingly, respondents said that their greatest fear about a long-term illness was being a burden on family members. A total of 53 percent offered this response, over double the number of the 26 percent of participants who expressed fear of ending up in a nursing home. Ten percent answered that depleting savings was their greatest concern and 11 percent responded that they feared death.
When examined further, the top fear of being a financial burden is driven by concern over uninsured medical expenses. This was the top financial worry among men and women age 55+. The top fear over disabling diseases was Alzheimer’s.
If the fear is present, action is not, according to the study’s findings. “While two-thirds of people will actually need some long term care, such as home care, assisted living, or nursing home care, after they reach age 65, only 35% of people believe they will need such care,” according to the study.
And, according to the Genworth study, families are not talking in depth about long-term care needs as evidenced by the fact that 91 percent of all Americans have not discussed all three key long term care topics with their spouses; 92% have not discussed all three key long term care topics with their adult children; and 94% have not discussed all three key long term care topics with their parents. Those topics are: what long-term care options are most preferred; the potential roles and responsibilities of different family members for managed care; and, how long-term care will be paid for if required.
Other questions reaffirm the disconnect between known need and action. Genworth found that 78 percent of men and women would find it helpful to talk to a financial professional about long-term care planning while only 16 percent have had this conversation with a financial professional.
So, why is there such a lack of action? The study suggests that discomfort may be the biggest barrier. It found that “Fifty-nine percent (59%) are uncomfortable raising the topic while 49% believe their families would be uncomfortable talking about it. People also cite not knowing how to start the conversation (46%) and believing they will never need long term care as other major reasons (43%).”