One of today’s most popular memes showcases a cartoon dog sitting, enjoying a cup of coffee with the statement “This is fine” printed beneath him. Around him, the room is on fire and clearly … everything is not fine.
Similarly, a recent survey from OneAmerica® found that 84% of consumers are at least slightly confident in their long-term care (LTC) plans. And yet, the same survey notes that only a little more than a quarter (29%) have researched LTC options, and even fewer have worked with a financial professional on such plans (18%) or implemented an actual strategy (16%). Just as the meme says ironically … “This is fine. It’s all fine.”
What is behind this false confidence? Let’s dig a little deeper and find out.
Confidence is false when it is not based on reality — on sound reasoning or sufficient evidence. In this case, consumers haven’t taken the time and effort to actually create a plan, yet inexplicably they seem to be confident that they will be OK.
Perhaps their confidence is built upon an overreliance on unrealistic support. When asked how they expect to pay for long-term care if they get sick unexpectedly, 63% said personal savings, and 53% said Social Security or Medicare. Additionally, 79% of respondents expect either their partner or children to provide LTC care, should they need it. As financial representatives, we recognize that unless fully discussed and prepared for, these may not be viable choices.
Psychology Today cites that “… death anxiety drives people to adopt worldviews that protect their self-esteem, worthiness and sustainability.” The worry around death and potential end-of-life care could be the reason many consumers tell themselves everything is fine, or perhaps their reassurance may be an act of self-preservation. When pushed to define what “fine” looks like, however, they are missing key elements of their long-term plan — whether it’s talking to their financial professionals or buying long-term care insurance.
No one wants to think about death or the need for someone to take care of them. As financial representatives, we have a responsibility to talk to them about their long-term financial strategies, including end-of-life or long-term care. If we can position these topics as ways to provide more security for clients and their families, it might reduce the awkwardness of these conversations.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is estimated that at least 70% of individuals over the age of 65 will require some long-term care services in their lives. While we recognize many of our consumers are confident they’ll be among the other 30%, it’s up to professionals to help prepare them for the times that they might be wrong.
“Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, research has proven that many of us will need to deal with a long-term care event — either for ourselves or for a loved one,” says Jeff Levin, vice president and head of Care Solutions at OneAmerica. “We know that when it comes to long-term care, confidence does not equal preparation. Instead, having the necessary plan in place to be able to address potential costs associated with a long-term care event is critical in removing the burden for a family.”
For additional resources and the full consumer research survey about long-term care, please visit https://bit.ly/LTCINN.
OneAmerica® is the marketing name for the companies of OneAmerica.