Long Term Care Insurance And America’s “Oldest Old”

The increases in life expectancy at older ages has significantly changed over the past century.  Today a person who reaches age 90 is expected to live on average another 4.6 years and those who pass the century mark are projected to live another 2.3 years.

“Americans are living long lives but few are prepared for the consequences that will significantly impact their spouses, family and loved ones,” declares Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the industry trade group.   “Today there are almost two million Americans ages 90 and over and the number is projected to quadruple over the next few decades.”

Much of the growth will come from aging baby boomers.  “Between 2020- and 2030, the growth of the population between ages 65 and 89 is projected to increase by 32 percent,” Slome explains.  “America’s oldest old will place a great strain on the nation’s families and resources because many of them will require lengthy and very costly care.”

Three states already have over 100,000 residents age 90 or older according to the nation’s long term care insurance expert.  “California has nearly 190,000, followed by Florida with 142,000 and New York with over 130,000,” Slome reports.  Women age 90-plus outnumber men by nearly three to one.

“Older women can expect to live longer than men and have experienced more rapid improvements in life expectancy,” Slome notes.  Over 80 percent of the 90-plus women are widowed, while more than 40 percent of the 90-plus men are still married.

Government data shows that the annual median personal income for people age 980 and over was $14,760 (in 2008 inflation-adjusted dollars).  “The poverty rate for the 90-plus population is higher than that for those age 65 to 80,” Slome adds.  “When older people need long term care which is common simply as a result of aging or age-related health conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, they are either going to turn to family members for support or to whatever government programs exist at the time.”

“For baby boomers who are in their 50s and 60s today, it is important to understand the likelihood and risks associated with living a long life,” Slome notes.  “If you don’t want to depend on family or be forced to depend on Medicaid, one had better start thinking about this prior to retirement age when you have the most planning options available.  Long term care insurance is going to be vital for America’s oldest old.”

The American Association for Long Term Care Insurance was established in 1998 to advocate for the importance of planning for long term care and to support insurance and financial professionals who market LTC insurance.  To learn more about long term care insurance costs call the organization’s offices at (818) 597-3227 or visit the Association’s website.

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