Nearly one in four U.S. adults aged 50 and above said that they or a loved one needed long-term care over the past year.
In addition, as they were trying to navigate that reality, they generally faced significant frustrations. This is according to a new survey commissioned by the senior-focused think tank Nexus Insights. Research was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.
Specifically, the survey highlighted that more than half of these adults said that selecting long-term care options caused anxiety and frustration. Comparatively, only 23% felt confident or at peace, with even less – 14% – feeling happy while making a choice for themselves or a loved one.
“Making a decision about long-term care is a maze full of emotional twists and turns, dead ends and setbacks,” Robert Kramer, founder and fellow of Nexus Insights, said in a statement. “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.”
The results of the survey – which came from interviews with over 1,000 adults during a four-day period in November – have led Kramer and researchers to believe, or further believe, that there is a grave need for more consumer-friendly resources to “help navigate care options.”
The survey also included 69% of these older adults saying it was extremely important to them to learn additional information about the cost of care and options to pay for it. A note of importance for home-based care providers was also that 63% wanted to know more about the different types of long-term care services available.
“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, senior vice president at NORC at the University of Chicago, said in a statement. “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.”
There are a few examples of companies already trying to make this a reality. For instance, A Place for Mom – a referral company that helps seniors and their families navigate care – has been around since 2000. The company is targeting home care as an area for growth, and recently raised $175 million.
The home care technology Honor – which owns Home Instead – also launched Honor Expert this year. The company wants Honor Expert to be a “one-stop shop” for seniors trying to navigate care journeys.
Long-term care services being tough to navigate is not new, and home-based care providers have pointed to more recognition of care possibilities in the home as one silver lining of the pandemic.
“I still talk to people today that say, ‘I didn’t know this service – [home care] – existed. I wish I knew that when my mom or my dad was going through that.’” Caring Senior Service CEO Jeff Salter said recently at Home Health Care News’ Home Care Conference. “That’s one of the surprising parts of my career of 30 years to see that’s still the case.”
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