Findings suggest barriers to extended care planning include lack of awareness, uncertainties about paying for costs and possible solutions.
MINNEAPOLIS — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey from diversified financial services leader
The 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. This research was conducted in partnership with data intelligence company
Although the pandemic magnified the impact of long-term care on individuals and their caregivers’ daily lives, more than half of survey respondents (51%) said COVID-19 did not change their approach to extended care planning at all. This is especially concerning when considering the survey’s broader insights, which found that 70% of Americans have not documented their plans for extended care. Overall these survey results reinforce the lack of awareness and the need for additional conversation around this important topic that will statistically affect a majority of Americans and their families.1
According to Thrivent’s 2021 Extended Care Planning Survey, a mere 18% of respondents said COVID-19 made them realize having a plan is more important than ever. Only 12% said the pandemic led them to have a conversation with their spouse and or/immediate family about extended care for themselves or a loved one.
“At Thrivent, we believe everyone deserves a plan,” said Thrivent president and CEO Terry Rasmussen. “Living through this pandemic has only reinforced the importance of having a comprehensive financial strategy. Yet, as our survey reveals, a central component to that strategy appears to be missing: an extended care plan. As the pandemic has shown us, we all need to be prepared for future care – both for ourselves and our loved ones. The time to put together a plan is right now.”
Survey findings reveal 70% of Americans don’t have a documented extended care plan in place for themselves or a family member. In addition, 78% of Americans over the age of 45 report they have no plan in place, even though the likelihood of needing extended care increases with age. Furthermore, 59% of Americans haven’t spoken to anyone about creating such a plan.
Many also are unsure about how they would fund their care: 75% of Americans said it would be difficult to pay for long-term care and more than half (52%) revealed they wouldn’t be able to fund their care if they needed it today.
Disparities exist between women and men when it comes to talking about and planning for extended care
Despite being the primary caregivers in their families, the survey found that women appear to be less prepared than men when it comes to planning for future care:
- 77% of women don’t have a documented extended care plan for themselves or a loved one compared to 64% of men.
- 63% of women haven’t had conversations with family members about an extended care plan compared to 55% of men.
- When it comes to covering costs, 62% of women said they wouldn’t be able to fund their care if they needed it today compared to 42% of men.
“Based on our survey findings, it’s clear more education is needed around the importance of extended care planning,” said Steve Sperka, vice president of health insurance products at Thrivent. “When people have a documented plan outlining wishes for their care, they are taking an important step toward giving themselves and their loved ones financial clarity at a time when they may need it the most.”
Thrivent offers the following suggestions for people who are looking to develop an extended care plan:
1. Consider care options.
Individuals should think about what they want their personal extended care plan to look like. A comprehensive plan should outline the following: 1) what should happen if long-term care is needed; 2) the primary decision-makers involved in executing care; 3) living preferences and; 4) how to pay for care.
When considering the approaches to extended care, there are many different options to fit a variety of needs. This can include anything from home care and assisted living to adult day care and nursing home care. Don’t forget to consider the training and support or the home improvement modifications that may be needed to help individuals remain at home.
2. Have a conversation with family.
Once individuals have carefully thought about their plan, they should set aside time to speak with their family about it. It’s important to review everything in detail so there’s no question about the individuals’ wishes if something were to happen to them.
If needed, individuals should take time to make changes to their plan based on additional input and feedback.
This is an especially important consideration for women. 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 care.2 This may come at the expense of thinking about their own needs. As Thrivent’s survey underscores, there’s an opportunity for women to engage in conversations with their loved ones and understand available care options. By being proactive with extended care planning, they can feel confident knowing they’re ready for the future, no matter what happens.
3. Understand the financial impact.
People can’t act upon their plans if they haven’t determined how they’ll cover the expenses.
As part of the planning process, individuals should consult with their financial professional to understand their current picture, how extended care fits in broadly with their financial strategy and options to fund their care.
Extended care isn’t a one-size-fits-all. There are different costs for different options, and a financial professional can help people understand how to plan for the costs associated with extended care. The survey revealed this level of preparation can pay off: People with a financial strategy are 2.7 times more likely to have an extended care plan in place than those without. 49% of respondents believe extended care should be included in financial management plans, only 18% think it should be separate and 32% have no opinion.
4. Take steps to put the plan together.
Don’t wait until a crisis occurs to act. Once details are ironed out, people should move immediately to writing out their plans, communicating their wishes to family and making decisions about how to fund their plan. It’s beneficial to consider working with a financial professional who can provide guidance and support at this critical stage.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, the unthinkable can happen quickly and without notice. It’s prudent for people to use this time while they’re healthy to put thought into their extended care plan and share it with loved ones. By doing so, the survey findings suggest they’ll feel closer to achieving financial clarity, enabling a life full of meaning and gratitude.
Thrivent is a diversified financial services organization that helps people achieve financial clarity, enabling lives full of meaning and gratitude. Thrivent and its subsidiary and affiliate companies serve more than 2.3 million clients, offering advice, insurance, investments, banking and generosity products and programs over the phone, online as well as through financial professionals and independent agents nationwide. Thrivent is a Fortune 500 company with $162 billion in assets under management/advisement (as of 12/31/20). Thrivent carries an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best, a credit rating agency; this is the highest of the agency’s 16 ratings categories and was affirmed in June of 2020. Rating based on Thrivent’s financial strength and claims-paying ability. Does not apply to investment product performance. For more information, visit
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