The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Americans mentally, physically, and financially, and as such, has caused many to reexamine the importance of prioritizing long-term care.
The vast majority of Americans (87%) believe it's more important than ever for people to stay at home for long-term care, as well as have a plan for long-term care (85%) and have long-term care insurance (81%) as COVID-19 has raised concerns about the safety of nursing homes.
What's more, 61% of Americans report they would rather die than live in a nursing home, according to a new Nationwide Retirement Institute® Long-term Care survey conducted by The Harris Poll in September 2020 of 959 U.S. adults aged 24 or over and 308 caregivers aged 24 or over).
The survey finds nearly half of these adults (48%) worry more now about the safety of nursing homes; this is especially true for Boomers+ (57%), as compared to 43% of Millennials and 41% of Gen Xers. In addition, around one in three Americans worry more now about being isolated and alone (35%), as well as worry more about being able to afford long-term care for themselves (30%) or a family member (30%).
"This is a very challenging time for caregivers. We recognize the strain the pandemic has put on all caregivers, and that they face unique emotional and financial challenges," said Holly Snyder, president of Nationwide's life insurance business. "Our survey found that Americans prefer to stay in their home for long-term care (71%) and most would like to have the option of relying on a family member if they needed long-term care (68%) but would not expect them to do so if they were unable to pay them (69%). Today, social isolation and health and safety concerns due to the pandemic have fueled people's fear of being alone in a nursing home when they need long-term care."
Caregivers in crisis
More than two thirds of current caregivers say the fear of their loved one (73%) or themselves (66%) getting sick has impacted their caregiving abilities. In fact, most current caregivers feel the pandemic has made it nearly impossible for them to complete their caregiving duties as they did before (62%) and has prevented them from providing the care they once did (54%).
In addition, many current caregivers feel they can't afford to get sick because no one else can provide care for their loved one (72%). And concerningly, 1 in 5 current caregivers (20%) purposely have not had themselves or a loved one tested for COVID-19 out of fear they wouldn't be able to provide care if the test was positive.
"The pandemic and its accompanying restrictions have put a strain on most current caregivers' ability to provide customary care for their loved ones and the majority have taken a hit financially," Snyder said. "In fact, our survey reveals more than six in 10 current caregivers (64%) say the pandemic has impacted their financial ability to provide care. However, many caregivers' concerns expand beyond just financials and COVID-19 – nearly two-thirds of all caregivers (65%) don't know what would happen to their loved one if they couldn't provide care for them."
What's more, two-thirds of current caregivers (66%) feel social distancing and other restrictions in place have made their caregiving duties more difficult. These caregivers are worried they can't protect those they care for from getting sick (73%) and two thirds (66%) are avoiding everyone so they can stay healthy and keep providing their caregiving duties.
Those balancing work and caregiving during the pandemic feel the financial and emotional burden. Sixty percent of current caregivers say it is more challenging to provide care while working from home, and 72% wish they had more help with their caregiving duties due to increased stress. Among all caregivers, they report spending an average of 30.2 hours a week and $5,724 annually on caregiving duties.
"Most adults (71%) would prefer to receive care in their own home for long-term care. In fact, half (50%) believe it is a family's responsibility to provide care," Snyder added. "That said, there is widespread concern among most adults that they will become a burden as they age (63%)."
Make a plan for long-term care
While most adults say the pandemic has made it more important than ever to have long-term care insurance (81%), not nearly as many have talked about long-term care with family members (41%) or have long-term care insurance in place (8%*).
"One of the greatest gifts you can give your loved ones is having a plan for when you need caregiving," Snyder continued. "However, only 8% of Americans have talked to a financial professional about long-term care costs. Having informed discussions with financial professionals and using online tools can make long-term goals a reality and help Americans plan for the unexpected."
Snyder says a silver lining from the pandemic could be that more of these conversations are starting to happen.
"Amid the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, it is more important than ever for adults and caregivers alike to have in-depth conversations with family members and financial professionals to ensure they are strategically planning for long-term care costs," Snyder said. "The good news is that over 4 in 10 adults with a financial professional (44%) are working with him or her for the first time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – especially Millennials (70%) and Gen Xers (53%)."
To simplify this complicated issue and encourage discussions around health care and long-term costs in retirement, Nationwide's Health Care/LTC Cost Assessment tool uses proprietary health risk analysis and updated actuarial cost data such as personal health and lifestyle information, health care costs, and medical coverage. It provides a meaningful, personalized cost estimate that will help financial professionals and clients plan for future medical and long-term care expenses.
The 2020 Nationwide Retirement Institute Long-term Care survey was conducted online within the United States between Aug. 25 and Sept. 16, 2020 among 959 adults aged 24 and over by The Harris Poll on behalf of The Nationwide Retirement Institute. The survey also included 308 adults 24+ who are or have been caregivers. Caregivers are defined as those who have ever or are now providing paid or unpaid long-term care to a friend or family member, not through an agency, business, or non-governmental organization. Those who care(d) only for a child under 18 or a child over 18 born with a disability did not qualify as a caregiver for this survey.
Respondents for these surveys were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the online panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Data are weighted where necessary by age by gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, income, marital status, household size, and propensity to be online to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population.
About The Harris Poll
The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963 and is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. We work with clients in three primary areas; building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible. To learn more, please visit www.theharrispoll.com.
Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor's. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
* There are 93 million people age 55 and older (Kaiser Family Foundation – Population Distribution by Age Report for 2018). Only 7.5 million people of any age have LTC coverage. (American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance – AALCTCI, 2020 Report)
This material is not a recommendation to buy, sell, hold, or rollover any asset, adopt an investment strategy, retain a specific investment manager or use a particular account type. It does not take into account the specific investment objectives, tax and financial condition or particular needs of any specific person. Investors should work with their financial professional to discuss their specific situation.
This information is general in nature and is not intended to be tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice. The information provided is based on current laws, which are subject to change at any time, and has not been endorsed by any government agency.
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