Planning and discussing – 70% of those older than 65 will need long-term care

The PBS Newshour started a series today called “Taking Care.”  It will explore issues related to long-term care in the US.  Tonight’s segment was about an artist with Alzheimer’s who is being cared for by her youngest daughter in Tucson.  (I don’t recommend taking the time to watch tonight’s segment but if you want to, you can find it online at

The most interesting part of tonight’s segment for me was the recent poll done by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.  Although 70 percent of Americans older than age 65 will need some form of long-term care, “very few people have arranged to pay for or even to think about their own needs. Most haven’t even taken the basic step of talking to family members about their preferences.”

The segment noted that one way to “arrange to pay for” future care needs is by saving money explicitly for that care.  Reasons given for this failure to prepare or discuss the future include denial, not wanting to think about aging, and a belief that other people will require more care than they will themselves.  Many people mistakenly believe that Medicare will pay for ongoing care at home or ongoing care in a nursing home.

Here’s a link to a side article about this poll:

In a related post on the PBS Newshour health blog, someone stated that she used the story of the youngest daughter caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s Disease as a segue into discussing with her parents what kinds of arrangements they had made for long-term care.

The blog post goes on to link to a list of ten things every family should know if you are providing care to an older loved one or may be providing care to an older loved one.