One out of every four adults would rather go to the dentist than talk about their long-term-care (LTC) or aging needs.
“While the data stating people would rather sit in a dentist chair than talk about long term care might seem amusing, the severity of the issue is very real,” said Tom McInerney, President and Chief Executive Officer at Genworth.
More than 60 percent have a negative emotion associated with discussing their LTC needs, according to a Genworth study, which was released earlier this month during a New York City panel event, “Examining the Effects of Financial Planning on the Way We Age.”
“Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, statistics show that many of us will need to deal with a long term care event either for ourselves or for a loved one, and having the necessary information to make informed decisions is critical,” continued McInerney. “Genworth’s goal with all of the research and resources we distribute is to get people to start talking and take action around their future care needs.”
Barriers to planning
The notion of creating a plan around LTC can often seem like an impossible goal for families who are juggling the stresses of everyday life and allowing barriers to get in their way, Genworth points out.
“Individuals in our society often don’t like facing the many emotional challenges that aging brings to a family, but the stage of frailty is a new prominent stage in our life cycle that needs to be discussed and embraced,” said Dr. Barbara Nusbaum, New York-based psychologist and money coach.
“Long term care events are very real and we know a majority of families will be impacted by an event but when these realities are embraced it creates an opportunity for resilient planning, knowing the reality and the emotions tied to it so we can plan well and live better during this difficult time.”
Knowing that 70 percent of adults after the age of 65 will need long term care1 motivates the majority (57 percent) of adults to take action for their own LTC needs. Broken down by gender, the data show that females (64 percent) are significantly more motivated than males (40 percent).
Need for critical conversations
While talking about future care is the first step in creating a plan, Genworth’s study found that less than 30 percent of adults have had a conversation about planning for their LTC or aging needs. If an unexpected LTC event were to happen tomorrow to a spouse or loved one, approximately 20 percent of adults wouldn’t be able or willing to provide assistance, Genworth notes.
Looking at the data by gender, females are less likely to have had a conversation with family or loved ones about planning for their LTC or aging needs. Emotionally, males are more likely to feel peaceful/calm (40 percent) when discussing this topic, as compared to females who are more likely to feel anxiety/fear (31 percent) or confusion/overwhelmed (19 percent). Regardless of these feelings, it’s critical for families to communicate their LTC wishes.
Becoming a resilient planner
Genworth aims to drive conversations around the issues many face in starting a conversation and planning for their LTC needs. Dr. Nusbaum shares tips on how to become a resilient planner and overcome the mental blocks many face when starting to plan:
1. Embrace the New Reality. Older-age is a true life-stage and a long one. Just like childhood, adolescence and adulthood, it has three sub-stages (young-old, old and old-old). With medical advances, we are living longer. Knowing it is part of a life-cycle allows us to embrace it and cope with it sooner. Dr. Nusbaum notes.
2. Create Learning Conversations with Family. A learning conversation is one where we learn about each other’s points of view on the topic--not a conversation with a correct solution or with pre-conceived notions about what others are thinking. The idea is to build a plan together by listening to others’ ideas and feelings. Not my idea or yours--but ours-what is best for our family.
3. It’s a Process. Remember that there is no right answer or point of view. Gathering perspectives for the plan that is right for you and your family will grow from these conversations, but multiple conversations must occur over time. Start with your own thoughts, ideas and feelings, and then move on to conversations and share your LTC plan with others.
For additional resources about the reality of long-term care and the importance of planning to help families start a conversation for the future, visit www.longtermcareinsurance.org.
1. 2014 Medicare & You, National Medicare Handbook, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Sept. 2013.
This consumer study was conducted in collaboration with an independent third-party research firm, J&K Solutions, LLC. The data from this study was collected from an online survey in October 2014.
By Ayo Mseka