Poll finds nearly half of California voters 40 and older likely to need long-term care in next five years for a family member


September 13, 2012

Long Beach, CA - Nearly half of California voters say they will need long-term care for a close family member within the next five years but just as many also said they couldn’t afford even one month of nursing home care, according to a new poll from The SCAN Foundation and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

The poll, now in its third year, found that Californians, regardless of political party or income level, also were struggling in the weak economy to save money for future long-term care expenses. One month of nursing home care in California costs an average of $6,800.

Nearly half (47 percent) said their household income has declined in the past year and 22 percent had to borrow money from someone because they were struggling to meet their expenses. Forty-two percent had to cut back on food and other costs.

Voters also expressed worries about the costs of growing older at a time when the senior population is increasing and the state’s budget woes continue. The population of people aged 65 and older will double to 8 million in California in the next 20 years.

Two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents said they are worried about being able to afford long-term care. Nearly 90 percent said that despite the state’s economic crisis, state leaders should make it a priority to provide affordable options for long-term care and services so that older people can stay in their communities instead of going into nursing homes.

“A significant wave of demand for long-term care is headed our way – we cannot, as a state, stand around and wait for it to hit us before we do something about it,” said Dr. Bruce Chernof, president and CEO of The SCAN Foundation.  “The voters have spoken for a third straight year and the message is clear: they want affordable options for care and to ensure that individuals can age in their homes with dignity and independence.”

Conducted by bipartisan team Lake Research Partners and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, the poll surveyed 1,667 registered California voters age 40 and older in English and Spanish. 

Among other findings, California voters:

Cannot afford services

The number of voters who said they couldn’t afford services increased from last year. Seventy-three percent (compared to 66 percent last year) could not afford more than three months of nursing home care, while 46 percent (42 percent last year) could not afford even a single month.

Are facing stretched budgets

Nearly six in ten voters (59 percent) said they are worried that their total family income will not be enough to meet their family’s living expenses, and 22 percent have had to borrow money from someone just to meet expenses.

Are concerned across party lines and income levels

Sixty-seven percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents and 63 percent of Republicans -- along with 54 percent of California voters with household incomes over $75,000 -- are worried about paying for long-term care.

Feel stressed due to their current caregiving responsibilities

Fifty-nine percent of respondents who care for a loved one said it is emotionally stressful and 68 percent of those who help pay for a loved one’s care have faced a financial hardship.

Want California’s elected officials to take action

Majorities of Democrats (94 percent), Independents (85 percent), and Republicans (81 percent) consider making affordable options for long-term care and services a priority for state officials. Respondents’ support for long-term care services was at least as high as their support for balancing the state budget through either reducing state spending (84 percent) or increasing revenues (77 percent).

“Understandably, the state legislature has had to focus so much of its attention on balancing the state budget in the last couple of years,” said Steven P. Wallace, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “The poll demonstrates that the voting public is just as concerned with finding solutions to affordable long-term care.”

“Policy makers need to offer them a hand in facing the long-term care needs many anticipate in the near future,” he added.

SPOTLIGHT:  Latino Voter Perspectives on Long-Term Care

In this poll, Latino voters expressed particular concern about access and affordability of long-term care services. Findings show:

  • Ninety-one percent of Latino voters could not afford more than three months of nursing home care and 86 percent could not afford more than three months of part-time, in-home care.
  • Seventy-eight percent of Latino respondents said they worry about making ends meet, compared to 53 percent of whites.
  • Nearly one in four Latino respondents (23 percent) had medical debt, compared to 15 percent of whites.
  • Nearly one in three Latino respondents (31 percent) inaccurately believe Medicare covers long-term nursing home care – more than twice as many as white respondents (12 percent).
  • Six in ten Latino voters anticipate a close family member needing paid long-term care in the next five years, compared to 46 percent of white respondents.


View full poll results at www.TheSCANFoundation.org  

The SCAN Foundation is dedicated to creating a society in which seniors receive medical treatment and human services that are integrated in the setting most appropriate to their needs.

 The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research is one of the nation's leading health policy research centers and the premier source of health-related information on Californians.