More Seniors Surviving Cancer Adds To Long-Term Care Crisis

Over the next decade there will be a dramatic rise in the number of people over the age of 65 either living with cancer or with a history of the disease according to a new study.

According to an analysis of US cancer data, the greying of the baby boomer generation is at the root of the issue.  “Americans are already living longer lives and that will create a long-term care tsunami in the years to come,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the Los Angeles-based American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.  “Because long-term care insurance can only be purchased when you can medically qualify, the tsunami will wreak havoc on family savings and state Medicaid welfare budgets.”

National Cancer Institute (NCI) researchers found the number of people over age 65 with cancer will rise by about 42% in the next decade.  Cancer is largely a disease of aging, the researchers noted.  

The scientists analyzed data the revealed that in 1971, the number of people in the US who had survived cancer was about 3 million.   By 2008, the figure had risen to nearly 12 million.  In 2008, the proportion of cancer survivors aged 65 and over was 60% and is set to reach 63% by 2020. 

The most commonly diagnosed cancers among survivors were: female breast cancer (22% of diagnoses), prostate cancer (20%), and colorectal cancer (9%).  The high rate of survival among this population is most likely due to improved detection and screening.

In contrast, the percentage of lung cancer survivors is only 3%, despite it being by far the most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women.
“When you live a long life and now are even more likely to survive diseases like cancer, you are increasingly likely to need costly long term care, states Slome.   “With more Americans living into their 80s and beyond, having a long term care plan in place is more important than ever.” 

Financial planning experts note that most people wait too long to consider their options because the right time to plan is prior to turning age 65 before medical conditions like cancer, high blood pressure are diagnosed or become problematic.  “The sweet spot for long term care insurance is between ages5 2 and 64,” Slome adds.

For more information on long term care insurance, visit the Association’s Consumer Information center.

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