Do “Boomers” think about getting older?
The survey results showed while this population was concerned about aging the survey participants had little plans for acting on those concerns. Less than half the study group had even started seriously talking with family members about preferences, and even fewer had set aside any money to pay for potential long term care. This is likely a result of a general misunderstanding of usage of public funds, specifically Medicare, to cover these costs. Typically Medicare only pays for skilled care under limited circumstances and never for ongoing custodial type care in the absence of skilled services.
Losing independence and being alone is the highest ranking worry the study participants identified followed by fear of not having enough money to pay for care or being a burden to family members. These worries are understandable and predictable, while the lack of planning is concerning it is not all together surprising. According to the 2011 Associated Press and LifeGoesStrong.com surveys a number of commentators have argued that Baby Boomers are in a state of denial regarding their own aging and death and are leaving an undue economic burden on their children for their retirement and care. However, certain groups have been identified as more likely to initiate planning. Where there have been discussions with family members about potential future long term care needs and preferences for care, survey participants were twice as likely to report they could “rely” on family. clinging to their youthful self-concepts, still avoid talking about death.
Lack of awareness that not only can the care of an older person be planned, but for the best possible outcomes, it should be planned. Planning begins with increasing awareness of potential needs and education related to community resources and available funding options, as well as communicating with family and being proactive with financial planning for future needs.
The survey was conducted in early 2013, see www.apnorc.org
for complete survey design and results.