Jacqueline Vance, RN
Jacqueline Vance, RN

A new poll* finds that two-thirds of people 40 years old and older have done little or no preparing for the challenging and expensive reality of aging.

Government figures show that nearly 7 out of 10 Americans will need long-term at some care point after they reach the age of 65, whether it’s from a relative, a home health aide, assisted living or a nursing home. And, statistics show that on average, they’ll need that care for three years.

Sadly, there appears to be a lot of misperceptions among us about how much care costs and how it gets paid for.  The poll referred to showed that nearly 60% of those surveyed underestimated the cost of a nursing home stay, which averages more than $6,700 a month.

I think most people seem to have the mentality, “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” Kids, if you’re at least 40 years old, the bridge is here. Have you created an advanced directive or living will? Have you purchased a long-term care insurance policy? Have you sufficiently bribed your children to ensure they’ll care for you and not leave you to the wolves? (Seriously, the only one whom I know who would take care of me, I wouldn’t burden her with. The others would probably be into euthanization before I am quite ready!)

I need to plan for my needs so that WHEN — not if — I need care, I can receive it the way I want it. (OK, so I have this idea for a nursing home that has chocolate at every meal, cocktail theme night every evening, chick flicks every day, a spa with facials, mani’s and pedi’s every week and aromatherapy of my choice. Yup, I plan on going out fat, tipsy and happy! Who’s with me?)

Look, none of us want to face the fact that with advancing age most of us, statistically speaking, will need care at some point. So my advice is: Face reality, don’t put it off, do a little research and cross that bridge now, while you have the faculties to do so. 

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

* The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey was conducted Feb. 21 through March 27, with funding from the SCAN Foundation. The SCAN Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that supports research and other initiatives on aging and health care. The nationally representative poll involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,019 Americans age 40 or older.





The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse who is also the director of clinical affairs for the American Medical Directors Association. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.