California Aging Population Largely Unprepared for Long-Term Care

While financial preparedness for long-term care differs sharply across demographic groups within California—the largest state by population at more than 38 million residents—the majority of those 40 and over lack confidence about paying for care as they age, a recent study finds.

Two-thirds of Californians age 40 or older say they will need ongoing care as they age, however, the majority have done little or no planning for their own ongoing living assistance needs, a study by The Associated Press-NORC Center (AP-NORC Center) for Public Affairs Research finds.

Six in 10 Californians age 40 or older expect a loved one to need care in the next five years, yet non-Hispanic whites, U.S.-born Californians, and those in higher-income households are much more likely than others to have planned for their loved one’s care, the study says.


By 2020, white residents will make up 55% of those age 65 and older, Hispanics will make up 22%, Asians 15%, and blacks 5%, the study says.

While seniors made up only 12% of the U.S. population in 2000, they are expected to comprise about 20% by 2030, with roughly 73 million Americans over the age of 65. Seventy percent of Americans who reach the age of 65 will need some form of long-term care in their lives for an average of three years, the study says, citing data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In California, those 65 and older will comprise about 19% of the state’s population by 2030


Financial preparedness for long-term care differs sharply across demographic groups within California.

A majority of foreign-born Californians age 40 or older, 58%, say they are not confident about their ability to pay of their future, while only about a quarter, 26%, of U.S.-born Californians report those same concerns, the study says. Confidence in one’s ability to pay for long-term care is also lower among those who are younger, and women.

Californians are also slightly less likely than adults in the rest of the United States to have discussed their long-term care preferences with their family, the study says, adding that similar to nationwide trends Californians are more likely to plan for their death than long-term care.

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The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, with funding from The SCAN Foundation, conducted the study between March 13 and April 23 of this year. As part of a national survey, the AP-NORC Center conducted 485 interviews with a representative sample of California adults who are at least 40 years old.

“An objective of the 2014 study was to dig deeper into the experiences and opinions about long-term care among Californians age 40 or older,” the study says.

Read the full study here.

Written by Cassandra Dowell