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Poll: What do older Americans really know about long-term care?

April 24, 2013
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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A recent telephone poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs (AP-NORC) asked Americans over 40 about their attitudes about and perceptions of long-term care.

The survey revealed that although there was concern about the affordability of long-term care, very few people included it in their financial goals because they don’t consider themselves old or believe they will ever need it. In a release, AP-NORC Director Tom Trevor said: “The rapidly aging population brings with it important social and public policy questions about preparing for and providing quality long-term care.”

Among the findings:

  • Most respondents underestimated LTC costs and overestimated Medicare coverage.
  • Nearly one-third of respondents prefer to not think about aging and future LTC needs. However, they want to maintain independence (e.g., by living closer to family, healthcare services and shopping venues).
  • Although most respondents have not financially prepared for long-term care, they are concerned about losing cognitive abilities, loneliness and paying debt.
  • The majority (more than 75 percent) favor tax incentives to encourage saving for long-term care. Fifty-one percent support a government-run plan.

In a Washington Post article, 60-year-old Malinda Bowman of Laura, Ohio, says, “I didn’t think I was old. I still don’t think I’m old. I need to plan eventually.”

View the AP-NORC poll questions and results.

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