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Survey says: Americans need to catch up on long-term care planning

Illustration of three nurses

It’s estimated that seven out of ten Americans that survive to 65 will require some level of long-term care services over their remaining lifetime1. However, the Thrivent 2021 Extended Care Planning Survey reveals that only 30% of Americans are providing for this reality with a long-term care plan (also known as an extended care plan) for themselves or a family member2. Thrivent’s survey defined extended care as non-medical care for those who need assistance with basic daily activities such as dressing, bathing or using the bathroom due to a physical or cognitive impairment.

“The pandemic reinforced the importance of having a comprehensive financial strategy that includes chronic and later-life care. However, our survey shows that a majority of people aren’t understanding this,” says Thrivent president and CEO Terry Rasmussen.

The Thrivent survey2 reports that:

  • Only 18% of respondents say the COVID-19 pandemic has shown them that having a documented extended care plan is “more important than ever.”

  • Almost six out of ten respondents haven’t spoken with anyone about creating such a plan for themselves or others. A mere 12% say the pandemic has spurred a conversation with their spouse and or/immediate family about an extended care for themselves or a loved one.

These findings mirror a 2020 AARP survey in which 62% of Americans said that only an actual health crisis would inspire their long-term care plans3.

The numbers behind Americans’ lack of long-term care preparedness

More broadly, the Thrivent Extended Care Planning survey2 also reveals longer-standing barriers around long-term care planning.

People say they lack needed funds for a long-term care plan.

Funding their plans appears to be a challenge among respondents:

  • Three-quarters of respondents say it would be “difficult” to pay for long-term care.
  • Over half (52%) say they wouldn’t be able to fund their care if they needed it today.

But there’s some good news here: 49% of respondents believe that extended care should be a part of financial management plans. That’s a start in the right direction.

There’s an extended-care planning gender gap.

Studies show that not only are women typically the primary caregivers in their households, but they also spend a considerable amount of time providing that care4. This may come at the expense of thinking about their own needs. Thrivent’s survey concurs, with women reporting that they’re less prepared than men for their later-life care:

  • 77% of women versus 64% of men lack a documented extended care plan for themselves or a loved one.
  • 37% of women versus 45% of men have talked with their families about an extended care plan for themselves or others.
  • 62% of women versus 42% of men say they wouldn’t be able to fund their care if they needed it today.
Having a documented extended care plan is an important step toward giving yourself and your loved one’s financial clarity at a time when it’ll be needed most.
Steve Sperka, vice president of Health Insurance Products and product spokesperson at Thrivent

3 key steps to help get on track with your long-term care plan

“Based on our survey findings, Americans need more education around extended care planning,” said Steve Sperka, vice president of Health Insurance Products and product spokesperson at Thrivent. “Having a documented extended care plan is an important step toward giving yourself and your loved one’s financial clarity at a time when it’ll be needed most.”

Sperka suggests these three steps for getting up to speed on developing a long-term care plan.

1. Consider your care options carefully.

Decide what you would want to happen, should you need long-term care:

  • Who will be your primary healthcare decision-maker(s)? Have you designated a healthcare agent or proxy, should you become unable to direct your care?

  • Where do you want to be cared for – at home, or in a care facility? This can include anything from home care and assisted living/residential care to adult day care and nursing home care. If you plan to stay at home, Don’t forget to consider any home modifications you may need to receive care.

  • How will you fund your extended care? Long-term Care Insurance is a way to prepare for and help manage the costs associated with extended care, in addition to your existing resources.

2. Talk with your family.

Have a conversation with your family to get their feedback as you develop a plan. By doing so, you’ll know who you can rely on to execute your wishes. Ask your family specific questions, including:

  • Do any of them want to be actively involved in your daily care and/or be your healthcare agent?

  • Are they comfortable with you choosing to receive long-term care at home, if that's what you choose?

During this process, you may also learn that one or more family members is uncomfortable with the possibility of your taking on the duties of a caregiver. If so, take this opportunity to help them work through those fears and concerns.

By talking with your family and close friends about your plan, you’re helping to minimize their uncertainties when the time comes to receive care. This is especially true if your condition prevents you from to discussing your plan in the moment.

3. Plan long-term care costs as part of your overall financial strategy.

The survey reports that people with a financial strategy are almost 2.7 times more likely to have an extended care plan in place than those without.2 Consult with your financial advisor to discuss your extended care funding options, including long-term care insurance.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, the unthinkable can happen quickly and without notice, potentially leaving those without a plan in crisis. “At Thrivent, we believe everyone deserves a plan,” says Rasmussen. “When you plan ahead,” she adds, “You’ll feel closer to achieving financial clarity and leading a life full of meaning and gratitude.”

At Thrivent, we believe everyone deserves a plan.
Terry Rasmussen, Thrivent president and CEO

Interested in learning more about Thrivent’s 2021 Extended Care Planning Survey findings?2 Download the Executive Summary.

Connect with a Thrivent financial advisor to discuss how you can align an extended-care plan with your overall financial strategy.

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1 “What’s the Lifetime Risk of Needing and Receiving Long-Term Services and Supports”, ASPE, 4/4/19,

2Thrivent Extended Care Survey, conducted by Morning Consult®, March 2021,

3 “Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Are Still Popular, Despite Coronavirus Outbreaks”, AARP, 11/1/20,

4 ”Women and Caregiving: Facts and Figures”, Family Caregiver Alliance, 6/7/21,


If requested, a licensed insurance agent/producer may contact you and financial solutions, including insurance, may be solicited.

All applications are subject to the underwriting requirements of Thrivent. A medical exam may be required. Premiums are not guaranteed to remain unchanged, except during the first five contract years. Any changes to premium rates will apply to all similar contracts issued in your state to contract owners in the same class on the same contract form. This means you cannot be singled out for an increase because of advancing age, changes in your health, claim status or any other reason solely related to you.

Long-term care insurance may not cover all of the costs associated with long-term care. Long-term care contracts have exclusions, limitations, and terms under which the benefits may be reduced, or the contract may be discontinued. Contract provisions and maximum monthly benefits may vary by state. For costs and complete details of coverage, contact your licensed insurance agent/producer.

Long-term care insurance is not for everyone as determined by NAIC income and asset test criteria.

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