AP-NORC Survey: Long-Term Care in America and Americans Preference to ‘Age at Home’

May 4, 2021

Given the choice, a sizable majority of the public would prefer to receive long-term care in a home setting as they age rather than move into a nursing home, according to a new study from The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and funded by The SCAN Foundation.

Overall, 88% percent of adults favor getting ongoing living assistance in their own home or in a loved one’s home. Just 2% would want to age in a nursing home and 10% prefer a senior community.

With that objective in mind, the public supports a variety of policies that would facilitate aging at home, including a government-administered long-term care insurance program (60%), tax breaks for consumers who purchase long-term care insurance (61%), and direct funding to allow more people with low incomes to receive care in their own home (63%). Additionally, there is bipartisan support for the ability to get long-term care coverage through a Medicare advantage or supplemental insurance plan (70%).

Other key findings:

  • Americans’ common aging concerns include losing independence as they age (68%), being alone without family or friends around them (60%), and having social needs met (57%). Many also worry about having to leave their home and move into a nursing home (53%) or family member’s home (47%), and about experiencing health and safety issues in a retirement community or nursing home (56%).
  • Thirty-three percent would be very or extremely concerned about a loved one needing a short-term stay in a nursing home for rehabilitation, and 44% would be concerned about a long-term stay or permanent residence. Despite the ongoing pandemic, these concerns have declined since September 2020 (44% and 60%, respectively).
  • Americans think health insurance companies (52%), Medicare (51%), and Medicaid (41%) should have a large or very large responsibility paying for ongoing living assistance. Just 35% think individuals and 15% think families should.
  • Sixty-two percent of Americans are at least moderately concerned about not planning enough for care or being able to pay for care they need as they age (66%).
  • Most Americans do not feel prepared to deal with their own care needs: 69% say they have done only a little or no planning and just 15% are confident they will have the financial resources they need to pay for long-term care.
  • Few people have discussed their preferences for ongoing living assistance with their doctor (10%) or their family and friends (31%). These rates are low even among those age 60 and older (14% and 46% respectively).

For more information, see the AP-NORC survey article here.