By Marc Wander
Americans actively underestimate their chance of needing long-term care in their elder-years. As a result they are ignoring the necessary steps to prepare themselves and their love ones for what’s likely to come.
A recent poll examined how people 40 and older are preparing for this strenuous and often expensive reality of aging, and found two-thirds claim they have done little to no planning. Worse, 3 in 10 prefer not to think about aging at all. Only a quarter predict it’s very likely that they will need help around or caring for themselves during their senior years, as reported in a poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
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Even more troubling, the poll revealed that more than half of the 40-plus crowd already have been caregivers for an impaired relative or friend — witnessing the assistance they will likely need, firsthand.
“I didn’t think I was old. I still don’t think I’m old,” explained retired school teacher Malinda Bowman, 60, of Laura, Ohio.
Twice a caregiver, Bowman has aided both her grandmother and her mother, yet made little plans for herself.
“I guess I was focused on caring for my grandmother and mom and dad, so I didn’t really think about myself,” she said. “Everything we had was devoted to taking care of them.”
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The poll revealed that most people presume that family will step up if they require long-term care even though 6 in 10 have never discussed the possibility with loved one.
While it is a grand presumption, what happens if more advanced care is needed like giving injections or cleaning open wounds. If your loved ones aren’t able to perform those tasks, can they afford to hire help?
“The expectation that your family is going to be there when you need them often doesn’t mean they understand the full extent of what the job of caregiving will be,” Susan Reinhard, a nurse who directs AARP’s Public Policy Institute, said. “Your survey is pointing out a problem for not just people approaching the need for long-term care, but for family members who will be expected to take on the huge responsibility of providing care.”
Government figures show nearly 7 in 10 Americans will need long-term care at some point after the reach 65. Despite the “it won’t happen to me” ignorance plea, the AP-NORC Center poll found half of those surveyed think just about everyone will need some assistance at some point. There are major misperceptions about how much care costs and who will pay for it. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed underestimated the cost of a nursing home, which averages more than $6,700 a month.
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Medicare doesn’t cover the most common types of long-term care. Yet 37 percent of those surveyed mistakenly believe it will pay for a nursing home and worse, expect it to cover a home health aide when that’s only approved in certain conditions.
The older they get, the more preparations people take. Just 8 percent of 40- to 54-year-olds have done much planning for long-term care, compared with 30 percent of those 65 or older, the poll found.
The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey was conducted Feb. 21 through March 27, with funding from the SCAN Foundation. The SCAN Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that supports research and other initiatives on aging and health care. The nationally representative poll involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,019 Americans age 40 or older. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
Read more: http://m.detnews.com/nation/article?a=2013304240376&f=1212
Marc H. Wander is a partner of the Bloomfield Hills law firm of Witzke, Berry, Carter &Wander, PLLC. Marc has been licensed to practice law in Michigan since 1992. Marc’s practice is devoted to estate planning and business succession planning. Marc is a member of the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan and is a prior Chairperson of the Oakland County Bar Association Tax Committee. He is a frequent continuing education speaker to insurance agents, financial advisors, CPA’s and financial industry organizations. He has also been heard on WJR Radio. Follow Marc on Twitter @MarcWander