Autonomy, cost are key in decisions on long-term care insurance

Autonomy, cost are key in decisions on long-term care insurance

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Family discussions that emphasize older parents’ independence and their desire to avoid being a burden to adult children could stimulate interest in buying long-term care insurance, researchers say.

In focus groups with older adults and their middle-aged children, certain themes dominated parents’ decisions about whether or not to purchase coverage for themselves.

Tapping into those themes could help families talk about aging parents’ needs and everyone’s expectations, according to the researchers.

“Adult children in particular have a role to play in their parents’ long-term care, because they will likely be affected by whatever their parents decide,” said lead author Nina Sperber of the Durham VA Medical Center and Duke University, both in Durham, North Carolina.

“Having early and productive discussions with parents about their long-term care wishes can help to prevent difficult outcomes both for parents and their family members later on,” Sperber told Reuters Health in an email.

Long-term care insurance helps pay for assistance with activities of daily living. This type of care is rarely provided by employer-based health insurance and Medicare only covers limited amounts of care under specific conditions.

But long-term care insurance isn’t popular. Only about 13 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 65 have this type of insurance, Sperber and her coauthors write in The Gerontologist.

The researchers held eight focus groups in Boston, Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina, each with 10 participants.

Two groups included older parents with long-term care insurance, two included older parents without the insurance and four groups contained adult children whose parents either did or didn’t have the insurance.

The older parents in both groups valued their autonomy. They generally said they wanted their children’s support but didn’t want to burden them. And most said they wanted children to play an advocate role in their care but not to be “changing diapers” themselves.

But many of the adult children said they felt they were expected to care for the parents.

Parents who had purchased long-term care insurance emphasized their own autonomy and that of their children. Those who hadn’t focused more on the high cost of
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Autonomy, cost are key in decisions on long-term care insurance – Reuters

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