Pandemic Leads to Rise in End-of-Life Planning While Many Still Ignore Long-Term Care, Study Reveals

Old people in geriatric hospice: elderly lady having eyesight problems viewing the screen of mobile phone.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted more Americans to discuss end-of-life plans with close family members, but many still aren’t giving enough thought to their long-term care needs, according to a new study from Edward Jones.

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The study, released on Tuesday, was based on a survey of 2,020 U.S. adults conducted in August by The Harris Poll on behalf of Edward Jones and Age Wave. It found that the pandemic triggered about one-third of U.S. adults to have conversations about their end-of-life plans and preferences. For 44.5 million Americans, these were first-time discussions that involved topics such as finances, health and legal plans.

“It’s no surprise that the pandemic made Americans more acutely aware of the need for discussions around end-of-life planning,” Alison Carnie, a Certified Financial Planner and principal at Edward Jones, said in a press release. “We are encouraged that these tough conversations are happening more frequently, especially for individuals who did not have plans in place pre-pandemic.”

But many Americans still haven’t converted their plans into action, as only 19% of adults aged 50 and older have all three essential end-of-life documents in place: a will, a health care directive/living will and designated power of attorney.

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The study also found that most Americans are ill-prepared for what could be a more pressing need: planning for the possibility of long-term care. More than half (51%) don’t have any long-term care plans in place, while one in 10 have arranged to live with a child or other close family member.

This is the case even though most seniors in the United States will need some level of long-term care. As GOBankingRates reported on Tuesday, about one quarter of 65 year-olds will eventually require “high intensity” care for three years or more, according to a study released last month by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Another 38% will require a moderate amount of care for one to three years.

The Edward Jones study also revealed a mixed bag when it comes to retirement savings. It found that nearly 50 million Americans halted or reduced contributions to retirement savings during the pandemic. An additional 38 million withdrew money from their retirement savings. On the other side of the coin, roughly 59 million Americans began contributing more to their retirement savings during the pandemic.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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