caregiver with hands on older adults' shoulders

When it comes to choosing a congregate setting for long-term care needs, 10% of adults in a recent study said they would prefer a senior living community, compared with 2% wanting to age in a nursing home. The balance, however, said they would prefer to age in their homes.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research study — “Long-Term Care in America: Americans Want to Age at Home” — funded by The SCAN Foundation, found that despite the effect of COVID-19 on older adults, few adults are prepared for their own aging and potential care needs. Overall, 88% of poll participants said they favor receiving ongoing living assistance in their own home, but only 16% reported being confident that they will have the financial resources to pay for care.

The study also found bipartisan support (70%) for the ability to obtain long-term care coverage through a Medicare Advantage or supplemental insurance plan.

“People across the political spectrum agree that government should step up to help honor the wishes of older adults,” Sarita A. Mohanty, M.D., president and CEO of The SCAN Foundation said. “There is a real opportunity to reshape how care is delivered to aging people in America, and to do it in ways that are affordable to the health system and relieve burdens on families.”

Although Medicare only covers limited ongoing living assistance services, more than half of respondents (51%) said it should have a large responsibility in paying for long-term care. They also said that health insurance companies (52%) and Medicaid (41%) should have a large responsibility paying for ongoing living assistance.

And with the Medicare trust fund at risk of insolvency in the coming years, 89% said they think that shoring up the trust fund should be an important priority for Congress and the Biden administration.

Other findings of the study include that common aging concerns are losing independence (68%), being alone (60%) and having social needs met (57%). Many respondents also said they worry about experiencing health and safety issues in a retirement community or nursing home (56%) or about having to leave their home for a nursing home (53%) or family member’s home (47%).

Most respondents said they do not feel prepared to deal with their own care needs — 69% say they have done little or no planning, whereas 66% said they are concerned about being able to pay for care they need as they age. At the same time, few have discussed their preferences with their doctor (10%) or family and friends (31%). These rates are low even among those aged 60 (14%) and older (46%).

The nationwide poll was conducted in late March and relied on a panel representative of the U.S. household population, as well as online and telephone interviews. 

This article originally appeared on McKnight's Senior Living