I have talked before about studies and polls telling us what we already know – one of my pet peeves – but once again a poll tells us what I have written two books about. That is that the one phase / aspect of our life that tends to get the least attention and the worst planning is aging.
Do we plan where we went to college or what career to pursue or whether and who to marry and where to live and when to retire and what medical care is acceptable and to whom to leave our stuff when we die? Yup. Do we plan how we are going to obtain support for Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental ADLs when (not if) we have trouble performing them on our own? Very probably not.
So, what do we learn from this new poll of people over 40 from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research?
- “3 in 10 would rather not think about getting older at all”
- “more than half of the 40-plus crowd already have been caregivers for an impaired relative or friend”
- ” most people expect family to step up if they need long-term care — even though 6 in 10 haven’t talked with loved ones about the possibility and how they’d like it to work.”
- One participant said, “I need to plan eventually” [At Support For Home Health Care, that paraphrases one of the most common sayings we hear, from folks who absolutely do not recognize or want to face their own need – “I know I will need help eventually, but not yet.”]
- “Government figures show nearly 7 in 10 Americans will need long-term care at some point after they reach age 65”
- “Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed underestimated the cost of a nursing home, which averages more than $6,700 a month”
- “Medicare doesn’t pay for the most common types of long-term care. Yet 37 percent of those surveyed mistakenly think it will pay for a nursing home and even more expect it to cover a home health aide when that’s only approved under certain conditions.” [This is a sad but true situation. We are asked all the time whether Blue Cross or Kaiser or Medicare will cover the cost of non-clinical home care. The answer should be yes, but it is an absolute NO.]
If there is one single message we would like families to hear, it is not to put off planning for the aging experience. Hopefully that experience will happen to all of us. Without planning, it can be very unpleasant.
Best wishes. Bert