Preparing for the elderly years is essential, experts say. Here’s how:

The aging business has grown extensively over the past decade. There are more services and products that help older adults live a better life today than ever before, and research and development indicate more growth and advancement. The next decade will supply health care and financial benefits to keep the boomer population thriving.

But despite the promising future, senior care providers remain suspicious that consumers don’t fully comprehend the effort it takes to prepare for this stage. Thought leaders and professionals recognize that the population shift will have a remarkable effect on society. And the question that stops them dead in their tracks, “How do we convince people that preparation is essential to living a comfortable life during the elderly years?”

After reviewing several studies by the Inquiry, the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs, the AgeWave/Harris Interactive study, and Gauging Aging, Carol Marak at discovered unsettling data:

  • 7 out of 10 Americans will need some level of long-term care after age 65.
  • 67 percent of Americans don’t believe they will need aging care—ever.
  • One in 20 Americans will spend over $100,000 out-of-pocket for health care after 65.
  • 33 percent will depend on family members for care.
  • 50 percent will have private out-of-pocket expenditures for long-term care.
  • 41 percent have discussed senior care preferences with family members.
  • 35 percent have set aside money to pay for future needs.

And the rest? They underestimate the costs of nursing home care and overestimate the role of Medicare in paying for that care.

The data implies that the world is not ready to handle the aging-associated concerns. But for the individuals who think it through, here’s how they plan to tackle the challenge.

  • 79 percent will save money.
  • 60 percent will work longer.
  • 56 percent will cut expenses.
  • 38 percent will relocate.
  • 34 percent will downsize.
  • 8 percent will move in with family.

It’s encouraging to see that a few do take action, but what about those who don’t? What can senior care providers and the government do to get more people to participate in retirement planning? addressed the long-term care debate head-on and asked 44 industry experts for advice. The complete answers are in America has a Major Misconception on Aging report. But in short, here’s what a selected few say:

  • “Assess your or a loved one’s situation and start the conversation about future needs with family members so everyone can agree on a course of action.” Tom Burke, American Health Care Association.
  • “Be aware of your family’s medical history, so you can predict at some level the kinds of things you might face. Interact with older people to get a grasp on what aging looks like.” Donna Schempp, Former Director Family Caregiver Alliance.
  • “We need more media coverage on the aging topic as well as more grassroots efforts. Employers certainly have an opportunity to step up and help provide education and services through Employee Assistance or Health & Wellness programs.” Susan Baida, President,
  • “Start having conversations with your family and decide how you want to age. Make a list of the values you wish to live by in your elderly years.” Bruce Chernoff, CEO, The SCAN Foundation.
  • “Recognize changes that occur with natural human progression, and then seek out resources, tools and technology solutions that can make life better as your health changes.” Laura Mitchell, Consultant on digital health and aging.