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Do Americans Need a Senior Wake-Up Call?

Written by Carol Marak

Infographic on people and long term care.

The two studies show a significant discrepancy in the public’s perception of growing older. One study by the Inquiry called, “Long-Term Care Over an Uncertain Future,” and the other, America Talks: Protecting Our Families’ Financial Futures sponsored by Genworth. The results conflicted. Inquiry found that 7 out of 10 consumers over 65 will need long-term care during their lifetimes. While the Genworth study found that people severely underestimate their future aging care needs. 63% believe they will NOT require long-term care at all.       

What creates this huge conflict? It’s the biggest debate in elder care. Professionals working in the industry come face-to-face with it every day. Senior care providers and industry leaders live very close to people in need of care and have a direct experience of the effects of denial, ill planning, and procrastination.   

What happens when an individual does not prepare?

  • Will pay out-of-pocket
  • Will not get help from Medicare – they don’t cover long-term care
  • Will not qualify for Medicaid
  • Will depend on family members for help

Long Term Care is the Biggest Risk Facing Retirees

Senior Wake-Up Call

The industry leaders and researchers say the most significant risk that retirees face is the need for long-term care. In the first study mentioned earlier, the Inquiry found that 50% of retirees will have no private out-of-pocket expenditures for care, but one in 20 people are is projected to spend $100,000 or more of their money on it. And according to the USA Today, 50% of all retirees have less that $25,000 in savings. So, the big question, “How will retirees pay for senior care?”

These numbers illustrate the urgency of our need to deal with the issue of denial. So, I took 4 significant questions that address the need for answers to potentially help solve the problem. The name of the full report is America has a Major Misconception on Aging.

  • Why the big difference between consumers’ perception vs. the experts’ forecast of the long-term care need?
  • What are the results of not being prepared?
  • How would you close the discrepancy gap? (Provide more education? More media exposure?)
  • What advice do you have for consumers to get prepared? What steps can they take now to get ready for their future care needs?

“I believe the greatest consequence will be a substandard experience in the care and environment when they can no longer take care of themselves. In my experience, over the last seven years in the home care industry, people want to stay in their homes through their passing. You often hear stories of families being asked to promise not to place Mom or Grandma into a nursing home. I lived this experience with my mother-law which was a motivator for me to open my own home care agency. I strongly believe that the best and most healthy way to age is in one's own home.” ~ Dan Parker, President, Right at Home of Sacramento. 

“We need to change the narrative surrounding aging in general. Your topic is actually just one (very tangible) example of the toll we pay for living in a deeply ageist society. Fixing this problem requires us addressing ageism head on.” ~ Dr. Bill Thomas,

“We don't see people receiving personal assistance because they're being cared for out of sight. It makes it easier to ignore the likelihood that we'll become one of the 70% of individuals who will need long term care.” ~ Eleanor Feldman Barbera, Author

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