The COVID-19 pandemic served as a wake-up call to Americans about their mortality, inspiring three out of four adults to make changes for a better future — including saving to pay for future long-term care in the setting of their choice, according to a new Genworth Financial survey.

Genworth’s COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Survey of 1,000 adults aged 18 or more years from across the country looked at the effects of COVID-19 on Americans’ lives and what they think about long-term care and financial security.

Among the changes inspired by the coronavirus crisis, 32% said they are making sure they are financially prepared to pay for future long-term care in the setting of their choice. One in three Americans said they already have started taking action to achieve this goal by “thinking, researching, talking to loved ones and/or financial professionals about how they would pay for long-term care services they might need.” 

Most respondents said they would prefer to receive long-term care at home.

Among the survey findings:

  • The pandemic forced people to confront their own (53%) and their loved ones’ (65%) vulnerability to unforeseen illness.
  • One in three Americans unexpectedly became caregivers overnight, providing nine hours a week of care for children, older family members or the dependents of frontline workers.
  • 24% said they are less confident in their financial futures.
  • The pandemic is taking an emotional toll with respondents reporting anxiety (49%) and stress (53%).

Among the resolutions people are making in the wake of the pandemic:

  • Improving their health and well-being (37%).
  • Prioritizing saving for the future and planning better financially (34%).
  • Carving out more family time (26%).
  • Living more in the movement (23%). 

“The survey clearly demonstrates that the pandemic has inspired a lot of soul-searching, as people come face to face with the possibility that they or someone they love will become sick and need long-term care,” Christine Jensen, Ph.D., director of Williamsburg, VA-based Health Services Research at the Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health, said in a statement. “All of us, regardless of our age and caregiving role, need to consider and plan for how we or our loved ones want to be cared for when we are unable to care for ourselves, whether because of a serious illness, a debilitating disease or cognitive impairment.”

Janice Luvera, Genworth vice president of marketing, said in a statement the pandemic represents the first time many Americans became “acutely aware of their own mortality as well as that of their loved ones.” 

“They are asking themselves, ‘What if I or my loved ones got sick and needed long-term care? Where would I want to receive that care and how would I pay for it?’” Luvera said. “In spite of the disruption in their lives, what’s encouraging to see is their determination to turn this pandemic experience into positive change, and we want to do our part by helping them plan for a more secure, worry-free future.”

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