AGING ADVICE: Plan for long-term care, talk to family - KMSP-TV

AGING ADVICE: Plan for long-term care, talk to family

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Most people imagine living independently until the end of their lives, but statistics show many need long-term care but they don't have a plan to pay for it.

A new survey found that although Americans think about aging all the time by worrying about losing friends, losing abilities and senses, leaving unpaid debts behind. Yet, not enough Americans are planning, saving or even talking to family members about it.

Ellery Carr, of St. Paul, took in his mother about a year and a half ago after she, in her 90s, grew unhappy with her assisted living facility in Florida.

"I really had no idea how much of an effort it was and how much work it is," Carr told FOX 9 News. "It's definitely emotionally draining."

Carr brings her to the adult day health program run by the Wilder foundation in St. Paul, which is where seniors spend the day while their family caregivers go to work or take a break. It's a lower-cost alternative to a full-time nursing home, which many Americans don't want to believe they'll need.

"We know, if you're lucky enough to live to be 85 or 90, you're probably going to need them," said Director Jocelyn Schowalter.

Schowalter admitted she's not surprised by a survey suggesting that many Americans are in denial about long-term care needs.

"Most older adults have saved about $50,000 for all of their care and needs as they grow older," Schowalter said.

The survey, conducted by the Associated Press and the National Opinion Research Center, found only 35 percent of people over 40 have set money aside specifically for long-term care. About a third of respondents admitted they just don't want to think about getting older.

The survey also found people vastly underestimate how much nursing homes and assisted living centers actually cost -- an average of about $7,000 a month.

Carr admits that even as he continues to care for his mother, he's still not fully preparing for himself.

"Even though I'm right in the middle of it, it's a hard thing to swallow that maybe you might be in this same position," he said.

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