Only one-third of Baby Boomers think that they will need long-term care. And two-thirds of them will actually need it. Since 76.4 million Boomers are heading into retirement, that’s a disturbing statistic.
As a Boomer myself, I am definitely in the camp of “I don’t think I’ll need long–term care.” Or maybe it’s just: “I don’t want to think aboutlong-term care.” Or aging. Or illness. Or death. And I’m definitely one of the 80% of Boomers who would never consider moving to a retirement community. That’s for old, sick people.
A recently retired Boomer couple I know said that the prevailing feeling among their 60-something-year-old friends is: “If we just eat the right foods, exercise the right amount and get the right medical care, we’ll never get seriously ill, and we’ll never die.” Of course, intellectually, they know that’s not true. But who wants to think about poor health, loss of independence and death? Not me. Not any of us.
Maybe that’s the reason why we aren’t preparing better for our futures. An April 2015 study by the Insured Retirement Institute found that 4 out of 10 Boomers have no retirement savings at all.
We’ll need them. Because, for most of us, sooner or later, medical issues begin to show up. I’ve seen this situation recently with a relative in her 80s who has always been pretty healthy.
In the last few months, though, she’s fallen and broken a bone, come down with pneumonia, developed breathing issues and been told by her doctor that she can no longer travel by plane. To top it off, she inexplicably lost her hearing in one ear, almost overnight. “I never knew how much could go wrong,” she told me.
And, she’s never been more happy that she chose to move to a retirement community early — in her late 60s. She’s built a strong network of friends. She’ s been able to take advantage of an active, worry-free lifestyle. And she knows she’ll always be taken care of. What she’d like to tell Boomers after her recent health crises: “Someone’s going to be taking care of you, so you need to plan out who that’s going to be.”
As marketers, we have to find a way of convincing Boomers to think about things they don’t want to think about — to make aging less scary and less of a stigma so that more of us consider our options earlier, whether those options include retirement communities, aging in place or other types of support networks.
As a Boomer, I’m not sure which option will be right for me, but I’ll give it some thought. Maybe tomorrow.