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Survey Shows Americans Lack Overall Understanding of Long Term Care

image Overall, Americans did not do well on a survey of their long-term care knowledge according to MetLife Mature Institute (MMI).  According to a recent survey, most know what long-term care is and how much it costs, but their scores fall short regarding how many people will need it and how they will pay for it.

The MetLife Long-Term Care IQ Survey, taken by 1,021 individuals aged 40 to 70 in 2009, compared results with a similar 2004 study. The respondents’ overall score was 52%, unchanged since 2004; and only 21% scored 70% or higher.

The study reveals that most are not taking appropriate steps to protect themselves from potentially catastrophic expenses. According to the study:

  • Just about four in ten (36%) know that 60% – 70% of 65-year-olds will require long-term care services at some point in their lives.
  • Just over one-third know that most long-term care services are received at home. While the number of respondents answering correctly (37%) increased since the 2004 survey (18%), awareness is low overall.
  • Older people (over 60) are more knowledgeable about long-term care than younger people (40 to 49).
  • Fewer than half (45%) are aware that one in five American households care for an adult family member or loved one.
  • Few are taking action to protect themselves from such potentially catastrophic expenses; only 18% know long-term care insurance rates are based on age, but almost nine in ten (87%) are aware that a comprehensive long-term care policy covers home, assisted living and nursing home care.

“While long-term care knowledge has increased in some areas since 2004, serious and potentially costly misconceptions remain,” said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

“Many middle-aged and older Americans fail to grasp long-term care’s fundamental concepts, setting the stage for difficulties in the future,” said Dr. Timmermann. “Still others mistakenly believe they will be covered by resources that do not pay for such care. And, there is the common misconception that ‘this won’t happen to me.’

“As people plan for retirement, they need to consider not only how much income and savings they will need to last a lifetime, but also how they would pay for ongoing care should they develop a chronic condition or serious illness,” said Dr. Timmermann.

Long-Term Care IQ: Removing Myths, Reinforcing Realities

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