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One in Four U.S. Older Adults Needed Long-Term Care for Themselves or Loved Ones In 2022

Most found process of finding care very frustrating, highlighting need for improved navigation services.

Twenty-four percent of U.S. adults ages 50 and older say they, or a loved one needed long-term care in the past year, according to a new, national survey commissioned by Nexus Insights, a think tank focused on older adults. The research was conducted by the well-respected NORC at the University of Chicago. The findings illustrate the widespread need for information and guidance about long-term care services among an aging population and their caregivers, a need that experts say will grow exponentially in the future.


Most older adults said the process of selecting long-term care caused anxiety (53%) and frustration (52%), while few said they felt confident (23%), at peace (23%), or happy (14%) while making a choice. Researchers say the survey findings suggest a need for more consumer-friendly resources to help families navigate care options.


“Making a decision about long-term care is a maze full of emotional twists and turns, dead ends, and setbacks,” said Robert Kramer, founder and fellow of Nexus Insights. “The lack of a consumer-friendly system to help families navigate the staggering array of decisions that must be made quickly during a healthcare crisis boosts families’ stress. It can result in making decisions that lead to poorly coordinated, lower-quality care.”


According to the survey, older adults said it was extremely important to have additional information about the cost of care and options to pay for it (69%) and the different types of long-term care services available (63%).


Nexus Insights released a report earlier this year detailing the often frustrating and confusing process facing many older adults when making decisions about long-term care for themselves or a loved one. It called for a national long-term care navigation hub to help older adults discover and assess options, educate them on available support and funding, select and connect with the option that is best for them, and continuously evaluate their needs as health and financial statuses change. Kramer said navigation resources are needed immediately to support the aging Baby Boomer population, many of whom not only serve as caregivers to older parents but will soon need long-term care themselves.


“Many families reckon with a long-term care system that’s nearly impossible to navigate and provides little-to-no support for families making life-and-death decisions,” said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at NORC at the University of Chicago, who also serves as a Nexus Insights fellow. “Most people will eventually have to make decisions about long-term care for ourselves or a family member, so creating a consumer-friendly long-term care navigation system should be high up on the nation’s list of to-dos.”


Methodology The poll was conducted between November 11 and 14, 2022, during a monthly Omnibus survey. It included 1,014 interviews with a nationally representative sample of adults age 50 and older (margin of error +/- 4.34 percent points). The AARP and NORC’s Foresight 50+ probability-based panel is designed to be representative of U.S. adults age 50 and older.

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