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Denial of Need for Long-Term Care Will Impact Healthcare System

By Lisa Schulmeister, RN, MN, APRN-BC, OCN, FAAN
In February and March 2013, the Associated Press (AP)-National Opinion Research Center (NORC) for Public Affairs Research surveyed the perceptions, experiences, and attitudes of Americans about long-term care. AP and NORC staff phoned 1,019 adults age 40 or older (797 respondents on landlines and 222 respondents on cell phones).

The researchers found that a third of these respondents preferred to not think about getting older, and cited worry about losing their independence as the reason why they’d rather not think about the future. The researchers also found that there are widespread misperceptions about the cost of long-term care; most of the respondents underestimated the cost of nursing home care and overestimated what Medicare will cover. Few of the respondents have planned for the future (e.g. have long-term care insurance, are planning for aging) and only 41% have talked about long term care preferences with their families. Two thirds (68%) stated that they feel they can rely on their family a great deal or quite a bit in time of need.

The US population is aging rapidly; with projections that the population of those over age 65 will nearly double by the time the last baby boomers reach age 65. In 2000, seniors comprised 12% of the US population. By 2030, that number is expected to rise to 19% or 72 million over the age of 65. US Department of Health and Human Services projections estimate that 70% of Americans who reach the age of 65 will need some form of long-term caree and require it for an average of three years. With the aging population come important social and public policy questions about preparing for and providing quality long-term care. The report is available at
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