The Long View On Long Term Care, California Style

People in the Golden State who are approaching their golden years do so with trepidation, according to a new survey.

Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Sixty-six percent of California voters over 40 are concerned they won’t be able to afford long-term care and 63 percent are worried about future health care costs. At least another 70 percent are worried about losing their independence, memory or other mental abilities, according to a survey conducted by Lake Research Partners for the SCAN Foundation and UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

One of the more interesting findings: It isn’t current retirees who worry the most.  While 58 percent of those 65 and older say they are very or somewhat worried about paying for long-term care for themselves or a family member, that number jumps to 70 percent for 40-64 year olds.   The 40-64 age group also has greater worries about their family incomes meeting expenses and bills and about the social and emotional support they receive.

While the poll did not analyze the reasons for that difference, it may be that the younger respondents aren’t aware of what services programs provide, according to Bruce Chernof, president and CEO of the SCAN Foundation. He added:  “As Americans people age, they really don’t have appropriate reserves nor appropriate choices. That’s really the take home [message].”

That lack of preparation could have widespread implications nationally and in California, where people over 60 are projected to nearly double to 12 million in the next 25 years.

The survey found that aging Californians (older than 40) are worried about costs and often find long-term care unaffordable. The sour economy continues to have a big impact on their lives. Some other key findings include:

  • Sixty-six percent say they could not afford to pay for more than three months of nursing home care themselves; 42 percent say they could not afford a single month of care; and 85 percent do not have long-term care insurance or are not sure.
  • Forty-eight percent say their household income has declined in the past year and 50 percent say they had to take money out of savings to meet their expenses.
  • Sixty-three percent believe they should have enough affordable options for in-home care. Aging experts warn of a shortage of qualified workers to provide long-term care services.

In its second year, the poll surveyed 1,490 registered California voters age 40 or older between June 16-27 .  The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent. (note: KHN’s coverage of aging and long term care is supported by a grant from The SCAN Foundation.)