Many Americans age 50 and older worry about funding their long-term care, don’t feel financially prepared, and would strongly prefer to receive long-term care at home rather than in a nursing home. These are the results of a May/June 2011 Sun Life Financial survey of more than 1,000 Americans.

The survey, conducted by Kelton Research, reveals that nearly 60% worry about long-term care costs and don’t feel confident that they’ll be able to meet those costs: Only 16% feel financially prepared to finance their long-term care.

More findings from the survey:

  • Despite such concerns, most people don’t grasp the scale of rising costs. Median respondents do not realize that based on conservative historical inflation rates, the cost of nursing home care could rise in 2030 by more than double what they expect.
  • Most Americans age 50 and older (87%) would prefer to receive long-term care at home and be taken care of by their family, if the burdens on loved ones were minimal.
  • The depth of desire to receive long-term care at home is striking: Most Americans age 50 and older (83%) would prefer to live in their home to receive long-term care — even if that meant surviving only five more years — rather than live in a long term care facility and survive 10 more years.

“People should plan, not panic,” says Bob Klein, VP of strategic planning for the Sun Life’s individual life insurance division. “Since being a family caregiver can exact a huge toll, and given average annual nursing home rates projected to rise to $190,000 by 2030, you raise your odds of getting excellent long-term care by planning for it.”
Related to this planning, the U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial Inc. announced the introduction of Sun Care Whole Life, a single premium whole life insurance policy with a linked benefit that owners can apply to long-term care costs, including for in-home care, assisted living, and nursing home facilities.

“According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 70% of people over 65 will eventually need long-term care, often for daily activities, such as eating, bathing, or getting dressed,” says Janet Whitehouse SVP and general manager of Sun Life’s individual life insurance division. “We want to help people prepare, so if they ever need long-term care they have more freedom to pick the level of care that suits their needs, and the costs don’t have to erode their retirement savings or estate assets.”

 — Burns writes for Insurance Networking News, a SourceMedia publication.

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