Survey: Americans want in-home long term care, but half worry if their current home will be safe
Over a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, most Americans (85 percent) agree that it’s more important than ever to stay in their home for long term care. However, nearly half of those not retired (47 percent) say they are concerned their current home will not be safe for them to “age in place.”
According to the tenth annual Nationwide Retirement Institute® Long-term Care Survey of 1,812 U.S. adults aged 24 or over and 706 caregivers, conducted by The Harris Poll in October 2021, the vast majority of Americans (88 percent) believe it’s more important than ever for people to have a plan for long term care and have long term care insurance (86 percent) as COVID-19 has raised concerns about nursing homes.
“The pandemic has further fueled people’s fear of being alone in a nursing home when they need long term care,” said Holly Snyder, president of Nationwide’s life insurance business. “Our survey revealed that six in 10 adults would rather die than live in a nursing home. It’s also made people consider whether they have a plan that will allow them to age in place in their current home if they need long term care.”
What’s more, 80 percent of Americans agree that it is important for them to live in a single-floor home when they age. In contrast, 68 percent of non-retirees say their current home has stairs.
“Many adults are concerned about navigating their home’s stairs and step-up entries as they age,” Snyder added. “In fact, nearly half of those we surveyed (47 percent) say they are more afraid of falling than getting cancer. There are long term care solutions with cash indemnity style benefits that allow policy holders to use the money to pay for more than just typical assisted living expenses. You can use this coverage to pay a relative to help with your long term care and to install lifts, elevators and safety railings so you can stay in your home.”
A family affair
Most adults (70 percent) would like to have the option of relying on their family for long term care if they need it. In fact, half (50 percent) feel it is the responsibility of their family to care for them if they need long term care. This sentiment is particularly high for Millennials (69 percent) and declines with age (52 percent for Gen Xers and 33 percent for Boomers+). Millennials and Gen Xers expect their parents to live with them when they get older (61 percent and 49 percent), and they expect to live with their adult children when they get older (46 percent and 36 percent vs. just one in four Boomers).
That said, two-thirds of adults (66 percent) are worried they will become a burden to their family as they get older. Seven in 10 adults (70 percent) would not expect a family member to provide long term care if they were unable to compensate them.
Many adults misunderstand long term care coverage
The survey reveals that 25 percent of adults self-report that they currently own long term care insurance for themselves. This is concerning, as industry data shows only 15 percent of Americans have purchased long term care insurance and most of those are older consumers.*
According to the survey, Millennials (39 percent) are more likely than Gen Xers (26 percent) and Boomers+ (19 percent) to claim they currently own long term care insurance for themselves. Most say they bought the insurance at work, which gives away the misconception—too many adults confuse long term disability insurance with long term care insurance.
“Rarely is long term care included in a company benefit package,” Snyder said. “This misconception could mean that many Americans—mostly Millennials—mistakenly believe they have some sort long term care coverage, when in fact they do not.”
Most Americans (61 percent) cannot even estimate what current annual nursing home costs could be. Those who did, estimate current annual nursing home costs to be $43,096. That is not even half of what a semi-private room averages in 2020 ($93,075 semi-private, $105,850 for a private room**). They also underestimate home health care costs at $33,617 ($54,912**).
Caregivers face unique challenges
According to the survey, two in 10 adults are currently caregivers (21 percent) and close to four in 10 have been a caregiver at some point in their lives (39 percent). Caregiving is a time and money-intensive role. On average, most caregivers spend an average of 31.4 hours and $692 per month on caregiving duties.
Eight in 10 (80 percent) believe they should be able to be a caregiver without dipping into their savings to cover day to day expenses. The reality is, many say they are afraid caregiving expenses will keep them from ever retiring (68 percent of Millennials and 53 percent of Gen Xers), as well as worry caregiving could cause them to lose their job (62 percent of Millennials and 42 percent of Gen Xers). Despite all this, if given the choice, 80 percent of caregivers would choose to be a caregiver all over again.
Financial professionals have solutions
Nearly half of adults across all age groups have not discussed long term care costs with anyone. With fewer than one in 10 adults (eight percent) saying they’ve discussed long term planning with their financial professional, it’s important they start the planning process today to set themselves, their loved ones and future caregivers, up for success.
The good news is that more than one-third (36 percent) plan to discuss long term care costs with a financial professional in the future, in particular younger adults (41 percent Millennials and 46 percent Gen Xers, vs. 24 percent Boomers+).
“It is very clear that Americans across all generations need more education about long term care costs and solutions,” Snyder said. “Financial professionals can help adults create a plan that addresses these issues.”
To encourage discussions around health care and long term costs in retirement, Nationwide’s Health Care/LTC Cost Assessment tool uses proprietary health risk analysis and updated actuarial cost data to provide a meaningful, personalized cost estimate that will help financial professionals and clients plan for future medical and long term care expenses.
To learn more about the 2021 Nationwide Long term Care Consumer Survey, visit www.nationwidefinancial.com/ltcinsights.
The 2021 Nationwide Retirement Institute Long term Care survey was conducted online within the United States between adults aged 25 and over by The Harris Poll on behalf of The Nationwide Retirement Institute. Within the survey, respondents who are current caregivers or have been caregivers in the past were identified. Caregivers are defined as those who have ever or are now providing paid or unpaid long term care to a friend or family member, not through an agency, business, or non-governmental organization. Those who care(d) only for a child under 18 or a child over 18 born with a disability did not qualify as a caregiver for this survey.
Respondents for these surveys were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the online panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Data are weighted where necessary by age by gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, household income, marital status, household size, and propensity to be online to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. A propensity score was incorporated into weighting to adjust for attitudinal and behavioral differences between those who are online versus those who are not, those who join online panels versus those who do not, and those who responded to this survey versus those who did not.
About The Harris Poll
The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963 and is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. They work with clients in three primary areas: building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Their mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible. To learn more, please visit www.theharrispoll.com.
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