Survey: Need for Long-Term Care is Common, But Search is Frustrating

by Jeff Shaw

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Twenty-four percent of U.S. adults age 50 and above say they or a loved one needed long-term care in the past year, according to a national survey commissioned by Nexus Insights, an Annapolis-based think tank focused on older adults.

NORC at the University of Chicago conducted the research. The poll was conducted in November and included 1,014 interviews with a nationally representative sample of adults age 50 and older.

Despite that high need, most older adults said the process of selecting long-term care caused anxiety (53 percent) and frustration (52 percent), while few said they felt confident (23 percent), at peace (23 percent) or happy (14 percent) while making a choice.

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“Making a decision about long-term care is a maze full of emotional twists and turns, dead ends and setbacks,” says Robert Kramer, founder and fellow of Nexus Insights. “The lack of a consumer-friendly system to help families navigate the staggering array of decisions that must be made quickly during a healthcare crisis boosts families’ stress. It can result in making decisions that lead to poorly coordinated, lower-quality care.”

According to the survey, older adults said it was extremely important to have additional information about the cost of care and options to pay for it (69 percent) and the different types of long-term care services available (63 percent).

Nexus Insights released a report earlier this year detailing the often frustrating and confusing process facing many older adults when making decisions about long-term care for themselves or a loved one. It called for a national long-term care navigation hub to help older adults discover and assess options, educate them on available support and funding, select and connect with the option that is best for them, and continuously evaluate their needs as health and financial statuses change.

Kramer said navigation resources are needed immediately to support the aging Baby Boomer population, many of whom not only serve as caregivers to older parents but will soon need long-term care themselves.

“Many families reckon with a long-term care system that’s nearly impossible to navigate and provides little to no support for families making life-and-death decisions,” says Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at NORC at the University of Chicago, who also serves as a Nexus Insights fellow. “Most people will eventually have to make decisions about long-term care for ourselves or a family member, so creating a consumer-friendly long-term care navigation system should be high up on the nation’s list of to-dos.”

To see the full survey results, click here.

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