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Boomers Talking, but Not Planning, for Their Parents' Long-Term Care

AARP: "Someone will decide where you spend the rest of your life; make sure it's you."

The good news, according to a new AARP study, is nearly 70 percent of boomer women are talking with their parents about how they will live independently as they get older; the bad news is only 40 percent of families are actually planning for it.

"It's great that boomer women are talking to their parents about long-term care options, but talking is not enough," said Elinor Ginzler, AARP Director of Livable Communities. "Not understanding the costs of long-term care and not listening to the desires of aging parents can lead to decisions that may not be in anyone's best interest. "The sooner children of aging parents can begin helping their parents plan for long-term care, the more likely their parents are to get the services they need in the setting of their choice and the easier it will likely be for their adult children."

With so few families making long-term care plans, it isn't surprising that boomer women's beliefs about long-term care are also off the mark. The AARP survey showed that one in five boomer women say they have considered a nursing home as a viable option for an aging parent, but previous AARP studies show that only one percent of adults 50-plus would prefer to live in a nursing home if they needed care.

Further, this study shows that an overwhelming 68 percent of boomer women think their parents are financially prepared for any assistance they may need. Past AARP research shows that people often underestimate the costs of long-term care and often think they are covered by Medicare when generally that is not the case. In 2006, the average cost of a nursing home was about $75,000 per year for a private room. The average cost for a home health aide was about $19 an hour in 2006.

"The vacuum of knowledge around this topic is dangerous," said Ginzler. "It's dangerous for aging parents who may be forced into a situation they don't want, and it's dangerous for their adult children who may not have the resources to care for their parents. The key is to plan early, but without information planning is impossible; you don't want to wait until you are in a crisis to get a lesson on long-term care services."

"Someone will decide where you spend the rest of your life; make sure it's you," concluded Ginzler.

For the complete study "Are Americans Talking with Their Parents About Independent Living: A 2007 Study Among Boomer Women"

AARP is expanding its online resources to include tips for caregivers.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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