Woman feeding mother at table
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Fifty-six percent of Americans participating in a new survey said they would be willing to take a loan from their own retirement fund to become a caregiver for someone else.

Results of the Nationwide Retirement Institute 2024 Long-Term Care Survey were released Tuesday. The research, conducted online March 12 through April 2 by The Harris Poll on behalf of Nationwide, surveyed 1,334 adults aged 28 or more years who had household incomes of at least $75,000. 

Dipping into retirement savings can make a serious dent into long-term finances. Forty-two percent of the respondents said they believe that being a family caregiver likely will use up the money they had planned for the future, and 43% of the total said that they are afraid that caregiving expenses will keep them from ever retiring.

“Fifteen percent of Americans had to transition to part-time work to be a caregiver or take a lower-paying job that is more flexible in order to be a caregiver,” Nationwide said.

According to a study published last year by the AARP and reported by the McKnight’s Business Daily, an estimated 38 million family members provided approximately $600 billion in unpaid caregiving for older adult family members or children in 2021. Nationwide estimates that unpaid caregivers spend $338 per month on expenses related to their roles.

Still, according to Nationwide, Americans are hesitant to discuss planning for long-term care for themselves with family members or a financial planner.

Planning for long-term care

“Long-term care planning is complicated and emotional and has a huge impact on financial wellbeing,” Holly Snyder, president of Nationwide’s life insurance business, said in a press release issued in conjunction with the report. “Our data shows that Americans would benefit from taking a more proactive approach to financial planning to ensure they are equipped to meet the needs of their loved ones and themselves as they age.”

Long-term care insurance is underused, according to the report. Just 20% of survey respondents said that they have purchased it. Cost as the top reason for not purchasing such insurance, according to 49% of those without a policy.

“Because most people assume long-term care insurance isn’t affordable, they don’t purchase a policy, which can leave them saddled with hefty long-term care costs later in life,” Snyder said. 

Looking to AI for help

Many Americans are looking toward advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics to help with long-term care, according to other findings from the research.

“One in three Americans (33%) expect AI to extend their life an average of six years. And a third of caregivers (36%) expect AI to extend the life of the person they provide care for an average of seven years,” Nationwide reported.

Fifty-three percent of the respondents providing family caregiving said they “expect AI will make their job easier” by alerting them if the person for whom they are caring has a medical emergency or by helping them manage their medication and appointments, for example.

“While almost one third (32%) do not believe they will be able to afford to receive long-term care in their home, over half (54%) expect that AI and robotics will be affordable for people like them to help with aspects of daily living later in life,” the report said.