Roughly 70% of Americans who live beyond the age of 65 will require, on average, three years of long-term care, writes Long-Term Care Commission chair Bruce Chernof in an editorial this week.
“Unfortunately, America does not have a strategy to deal with this growing demand,” Chernof writes.
Citing a poll funded by the SCAN Foundation and conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs research, the chairman notes a long-term care “crisis” ahead, for which there is little strategy or plan.
Part of that crisis stems from a false believe that family members will be able and willing to provide care that the aging population can rely on, once they require it.
“About two-thirds believe they can look to their families for significant support and even more people think they will get at least some support from their families in a time of need,” Chernof writes. “However, in spite of these assumptions, nearly six in 10 are not even having conversations with family about their future desires and preferences for care.”
Denial and misunderstandings also abound when it comes to creating a future for long-term care, the poll found.
“Americans also have major misconceptions about the costs of long-term care and about who — or what — will pay for these needs when the time comes,” the editorial writes. “… this confusion about how services are paid for leads to a lack of knowledge on how to plan and, again, individuals find themselves in situations of need with no idea of where to turn for help.”
The upside, according to the findings and to Chernof, is the potential for change and the openness Americans have to alternative solutions. The Long Term Care Commission has been tasked with reporting to Congress on the long term care crisis as well as recommendations for solving it.
“The timing for this poll is critical as our window for action is short,” Chernof says. “Americans are clearly asking for solutions and mechanisms to begin to prepare for their future care needs so that we all can age with dignity, choice, and independence.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker
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