Doctor pushing on a Long-Term Care button on a virtual screen

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It’s no surprise that most respondents to a new survey on planning for long-term care hope to receive that care in their homes, but many said that they expect that when the time comes, they’ll receive care in an assisted living community.

The ninth annual Nationwide Retirement Institute Long-Term Care survey revealed that 86% of adult respondents said it’s important to stay in their home for long-term care. Sixty percent of baby boomer participants said they would rather die than live in a nursing home.

But when asked where they expected to receive care, 56% of the baby boomers identified their own home, 23% said an assisted living community, 10% said a family member’s home, 6% said a nursing home and 2% said an adult day center.

The survey also revealed that many people are not familiar with their options available in long-term care or the cost of that care.

More than half of respondents consider themselves at least somewhat knowledgeable about the options available in long-term care. For baby boomers, approximately half (49%) said they were very or somewhat knowledgeable about their options, whereas 50% said they were not at all or not very knowledgeable. For millennials, 63% said they were very / somewhat familiar with their options, whereas 55% of Gen Xers said they were familiar with their options.

When looking at the cost of care, about half of respondents to the survey said they felt at least somewhat knowledgeable about the costs associated with long-term care, especially millennials and Gen Xers. Only four in 10 baby boomers said they feel knowledgeable about costs associated with long-term care and caregiving.

Further, more than 60% of respondents said they were uncertain about costs related to specific long-term care options. When asked about the costs for assisted living communities, for instance, 63% of baby boomers said they were unsure about annual costs, compared with 61% of Gen Xers and 59% of millennials. Boomers estimated annual assisted living community costs — the U.S. annual median cost in 2020 was $51,600 — to be $65,000. This compares with Gen X estimates of $41,379 and millennial estimates of $23,467.

Regardless of cost, some people may be surprised to learn that they cannot afford long-term care when they need it. Twenty-five percent of survey respondents said they currently own long-term care insurance for themselves, but industry data show that only 15% of Americans have purchased long-term care insurance, and most of those individuals are older adults.

According to the survey, millennials (39%) are more likely than Gen Xers (26%) and those of boomer age or older (19%) to claim they currently own long-term care insurance for themselves. Most said they bought the insurance at work, which suggests that too many adults confuse long-term disability insurance with long-term care insurance.

The survey was conducted with 1,800 adults online in October by The Harris Poll.