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Senior living providers may want to make changes to their marketing efforts after reading the results of a new survey finding that adults looking for long-term care for themselves or a parent or other older adult want and need more information and guidance. 

In the study, from Nexus Insights, almost one-fourth of US adults aged 50 or more years said that they or a loved one needed long-term care in the past year. And most said the selection process caused them anxiety (53%) and frustration (52%). By contrast, a significantly smaller percentage said they felt confident or at peace (23% each) or happy (14%) while making a choice.

Respondents also indicated that it was “extremely important” to them to have additional information about the cost of care and options to pay for long-term care (69%) as well as about the different services available (63%).

“Making a decision about long-term care is a maze full of emotional twists and turns, dead ends and setbacks,” said Robert Kramer, Nexus Insights’ founder and fellow. “The lack of a consumer-friendly system to help families navigate the staggering array of decisions that must be made quickly during a healthcare crisis boosts families’ stress. It can result in making decisions that lead to poorly coordinated, lower-quality care.”

According to the survey, family members (42%) were the most trusted sources of information about long-term care services and supports, followed by their doctors (34%) and long-term care specialists (30%). 

In a report released earlier this year, Nexus Insights said that the process facing many older adults when making decisions about long-term care for themselves or a loved one is frustrating and confusing.

That report called for a national long-term care navigation hub to help older adults find and assess options, learn about support and funding, and evaluate their needs, including health and financial status.

“Many families reckon with a long-term care system that’s nearly impossible to navigate and provides little to no support for families making life and death decisions,” Caroline Pearson, NORC senior vice president and Nexus Insights fellow, said regarding both studies. “Most people will eventually have to make decisions about long-term care for ourselves or a family member, so creating a consumer-friendly long-term care navigation system should be high up on the nation’s list of to dos.”

The recent poll was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago Nov. 11 to 14 during a monthly Omnibus survey. It included 1,014 interviews with adults aged 50 or more years.