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Americans in Denial about the Need for Long-Term Care

September 2, 2015

In an article I recently found on pertaining to Americans facing the prospect of long-term care, over 75 percent of people admitted they had not discussed long-term care options with their family. For most, it’s a topic that is quickly pushed under the rug. After all, the costs and the circumstances that go along with long-term care make it an uncomfortable subject. As a result many folks embrace an attitude of denial instead of a viewpoint that is more grounded in reality. A study referenced in the article notes that only a third of Americans believe they will need long-term care at some point in their lives, compared to the nearly 70 percent that will actually need it. This is an alarming statistic because not having a plan in place can bring about a variety of consequences, from the dire and dangerous to the expensive and inconvenient. Without a plan in place, the options for care are driven by crisis management instead of a proactive thought process and preventative care.  A decision that has to be made on the fly is typically not the best one to support a person’s well-being over the long-term. Having a plan in place supports a healthy, methodical and effective transition.  The situation that occurs when a person without a plan is affected by a serious illness is chaotic and stressful.  If a person becomes incapacitated, this could force their friends and family to make a decision about the level and type of care they receive. Another side effect of being ill-prepared could be financial devastation and severe emotional stress.  The financial impact of long-term care can be significant, and people who believe that Medicare will cover the costs are mistaken. In fact, over 72 percent of people who need long-term care end up paying for it out-of-pocket. Few have the resources for long-term care, yet their assets and/or income levels make them ineligible for Medicaid. Proper planning provides consumers with more time to identify a means of acquiring the care they need and more control over their options, plus it reduces the stress that family members experience.  It may seem overwhelming, but when a carefully-mapped out plan is in place that considers everyone’s best interests, the result will be a sense of relief and added peace of mind.

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