Study Shows: Your Clients WANT to Talk about Long-Term Costs

Your clients and their families have a BIG fear: retirement health care costs. But just because they fear those costs doesn’t mean they don’t want to talk about them. In fact, a new Harris Poll study sponsored by Nationwide found the following:

  • 7 out of 10 pre-retirees list soaring retirement health care costs as their #1 fear.
  • 51% of adults are worried they will become a burden to their family as they get older yet 3 in 5 (62%) say they would rather die than live in a nursing home. (You can see there’s a disconnect here.)
  • 50% have not talked with their spouse about health care, and 45% have not talked with anyone despite overwhelming concerns about health care issues.

Even worse, these fears actually prompt some people to delay asking for help, planning for future health care needs, regularly scheduling wellness visits with their physicians, or taking medications as prescribed in the hopes of saving money. The reasons people haven’t discussed their retirement health care costs with others vary:

  • They don’t want others to worry about them.
  • They don’t feel others (their spouse or financial advisors) know enough about health care costs.
  • They feel it is a personal issue.
  • Some just don’t want to think about it.

Yet many feel the discussion is important and plan to talk about it with their family and/or financial advisors . . . they just haven’t yet.

As senior care professionals, we have a responsibility to understand these fears and behaviors and help people get over these stall tactics that actually derail their best intentions. This fall, Lifesprk convened a group of almost 50 health, senior care, and financial services professionals to discuss how we can work to make seniors and their families become better proactive planners (watch for the future Change On blog with the key learning points). One doctor Lifesprk works with pointed out that he feels personally responsible for helping people to identify instances where their behaviors are not going to produce the results they desire.

Here’s where we as senior care professionals can help. Start the conversation. Ask them whether they have started any planning. Give them tools and resources to help them better understand health care costs. Share some scenarios that will help them consider what they would want to do in those situations. Convene groups of seniors and their families to have these discussions. Share success stories.

These findings are an opportunity and a call to action for us. How are we helping people to have these conversations and better understand their future health care costs BEFORE a crisis hits? We’ll be glad we did – and so will they.

In fact, 75% of those who have already discussed retirement with a financial advisor admit that these health care cost discussions are important.