Huffington Post: Long-Term Care Solutions That You Should Be Talking About

The following was originally written by Ken Dychtwald for The Huffington Post:



This month is Long Term Care Awareness Month. Taking a moment to think about your - and your family's - possible future long term care needs is critical for us all since average life expectancy is now at 78 and rising. And, if you're already 55 or more, life expectancy has soared to around 84. This longer life can be cause for celebration or concern - especially concerns for your health and money. Two-thirds of people over age 65 will need some kind of long term care, and many of us aren't prepared for it. In fact, most of us haven't even thought about it. Perhaps I can help.

To better understand increasing longevity and its challenges, my company, Age Wave, one of the nation's thought leaders on retirement issues and Harris Interactive recently partnered with Genworth Financial to conduct the landmark study "Our Family, Our Future: The Heart of Long Term Care Planning." We polled more than 2,000 adults nationwide, gaining broad insights into how an individual's long term care needs could impact family members' lives, marriages, work commitments and financial stability. A complete report is available at this link. Some of the key findings from this eye-opening study follow.

Live Long, and -- Hopefully -- Live Well

Americans now say they would like to live to age 92 ... as long as they remain healthy. Respondents overwhelmingly reported that how long they want to live depends on how effectively they can maintain good health and independence. However, only 35 percent even considered the possibility of needing long term care if their good health is interrupted. Yet almost two-thirds (66 percent) of us will need long term care at some point in our lives.

The #1 Retirement Worry

Uninsured medical expenses are the top financial worry among men and women age 55 and over. People told us they worry most about these expenses' unpredictability and potential for high costs. The study also revealed that many Americans are confused about what long term care actually is, and they're surprised to learn that Medicare and/or traditional health insurance do not cover most long term care needs.

Why Plan for Long Term Care?

According the study's respondents, "not being a burden on my family" was the most important reason to plan ahead for long term care. Being "able to afford quality care in the setting I choose" was the next-highest priority, and "protecting my spouse's/loved ones' quality of life and future security" was next. When asked what aspect of "being a burden" worries them most, people told us that extended care can impose financial pressures on family members and also interfere with their lifestyles. Ironically, financial and caregiving challenges nearly always do fall on family members' shoulders when people fail to plan thoughtfully for their own potential long term care needs.


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Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., is a psychologist, gerontologist, author and motivational speaker who speaker about aging, health, life transitions and retirement-related issues. For more information about him, visit

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