The clock is ticking for even the youngest baby boomers to ensure that they have enough money to pay for their care needs in retirement, and yet a new study adds to a growing body of research that many members of this generation will not be prepared financially.

Seventy-nine percent of middle-income baby boomers surveyed in October by independent research firm The Blackstone Group on behalf of the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement said they have no savings put aside specifically to cover their care in retirement. Of those who do have money put aside, only 4% have more than $100,000 saved.

Baby boomers were aged 53 to 72 at the time of the survey, which defined “middle income” as households with annual incomes of $30,000 to $100,000 and less than $1 million in investable assets. The report resulting from the survey, titled “A Growing Urgency: Retirement Care Realities for Middle-Income Boomers,” was released Wednesday.

The oldest among those surveyed already are in the age range that 45% of respondents said was typical for entrance into assisted living, with respondents saying they believed that people typically need assisted living between the ages of 71 and 80; 37% said they thought assisted living typically was needed between the ages of 81 and 90.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they expect to need care at some point in retirement (compared with a 2017 estimate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cited in the report that 69% of baby boomers will need some type of retirement care services during their lifetimes), but assisted living isn’t necessarily where they want to receive it.

Not surprisingly, 65% of participants said they would prefer to receive care in retirement in their current homes — either as-is or with modifications — although only 55% said they expected to be able to do so. Nineteen percent of respondents said they both preferred and expected to receive care in an independent living community. Two percent said they preferred a nursing home, although 9% said they expected to receive care there.

Other survey highlights:

  • 40% of participants said retirement care planning is a low priority or not a priority at all, compared with 18% who said it was a high or very high priority and 42% who said it was a medium priority.
  • More than half of respondents (56%) said they expected Medicare to pay for care should they need it, although in reality, Medicare does not cover long-term care needs. But 40% also said they expect to use personal savings to pay for care, an increase of 15 points over the organization’s 2013 survey.
  • Among those who had not purchased long-term care insurance, the primary reason was cost, which was cited by 56%.
  • About half (53%) of participants said they are somewhat or very confident in their ability to manage their retirement care should they need it.
  • Less than a third (32%) of respondents said they have a plan for how they will receive care in retirement should they need it.

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