Resistance to long-term planning a looming crisis

By BenefitsPro

By Dan Cook

Despite the overwhelming evidence that we all get old, Americans continue to resist planning for their dotage.

More support for this national character flaw comes in a study sponsored by the SCAN Foundation, a nonprofit focused on issues of aging.

Researchers surveyed people aged 40 and older about their actions taken and attitudes toward long-term planning for their health care and retirement. While the 53 percent of them that have administered long-term care to someone else showed significantly more interest in such planning, overall, the results were not confidence inspiring.

  • 31 percent admitted they would rather not think about growing older at all.
  • 65 percent of respondents have done little or no long-term care planning, despite evidence that projects 7 in 10 baby boomers will require an average of three years of long-term care.
  • 64 percent have set aside no money for their own long term care.
  • Having lots of money apparently doesn’t matter. Among the wealthier people surveyed, with annual incomes of more than $100,000, just 53 percent say they have set money aside to help cover these needs and just 17 percent have long-term care insurance.
  • It gets worse for those who make less than $50,000 a year: only 22 percent have set aside money for living assistance as they age and just 7 percent have long-term care insurance.
“Americans are broadly unprepared for the needs most will face as they themselves grow older,” the study reported. “This lack of preparation stems in large part from a dearth of readily accessible information on the topic, broad anxiety about aging and seemingly more immediate financial and familial concerns.”

And therein lie the opportunities to awaken more aging Americans to the realities that await them.

“Increasing access to clear information on long-term care issues and options; stressing the importance of planning; and identifying concrete, affordable actions to prepare for aging all can help decrease the current pervasive avoidance of this critical issue,” was the upbeat read on the data.

However, a dearth of information on the topic represents a substantial barrier to changing these attitudes. “Comfort finding information is in short supply. Nearly half of Americans age 40 and up lack high levels of confidence that they know where to go for information about aging and long-term care.”

Originally published on