Providers' challenge: Capitalizing on a growing but reluctant elderly Latino population

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The U.S. Latino elderly population is expected to balloon in the coming years, and with the wave will come more Hispanic nursing home residents. Hispanics, however, have strong reservations about using long-term care services, a new poll shows, though they also strongly favor telemedicine and are amenable to long-term care insurance.

Opportunities are ripe for operators that can overcome the marketing and service-delivery challenges.

Less than half of Hispanics polled said it would be easy for older individuals in their area to find a nursing home or other senior care facilities, according to the survey, which was released by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. In addition, fewer than 30% believe they could find a long-term care provider that serves food to which they are accustomed.

Coverage is always a concern, as only 2 in 10 Latinos polled over the age of 40 said they expect Medicare and Medicaid to provide the same level of benefits in the next five years.

“The proportion of Hispanics among those age 65 and older is expected to grow by more than 50 percent in the coming years, making their views on experiences with long-term care critical issues,” Trevor Tompson, director of the AP-NORC Center, said in an announcement. “We found that many Hispanics have faced communication barriers when receiving care. At the same time, older Hispanics don't have a lot of confidence in the stability of current government programs or their own financial preparedness.”

Other key findings include: 81% of latinos polled 40 or older said they'd be comfortable using some form of telemedicine; 83% said they support the idea of employer-offered long-term care insurance plans; and more than 75% support policies that provide the ability to get long-term care coverage through Medicare Advantage or other supplemental insurance.

Phone and web interviews for the poll were conducted in spring with adults 18 and older in all 50 states. All told, almost 2,000 individuals responded, including 458 Latinos.