Thirty percent of boomers haveless than $1,000 saved for a financial emergency, and 79 percenthave no money set aside specifically for LTC. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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Avoidance of unpleasant topics has almost become an art formamong some people, but while some have finally brought themselvesto the point of making arrangements for their estates, most are stillevading the question of long-term care in retirement.

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So finds the latest research from the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement, which finds that 81percent of middle-income boomers have made at least one formalpreparation for when they pass away—compared with just 32 percentwho have some kind of plan for how they will receive care inretirement.

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Although 45 percent of boomers think they'll need LTCat some point, only 18 percent say that planning for that care is ahigh priority. And the disconnect is actually larger, since,according to the report, the Department of Health and HumanServices finds that “someone turning 65 today has an almost 70percent chance of needing some type of long-term care in theirlifetime.”

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If so, it'll be a tall order to pay for it, since 30 percent ofboomers surveyed have less than $1,000 saved for a financialemergency and 79 percent have no money set aside specifically forLTC. And that's despite the fact that 74 percent are somewhat orvery confident in their ability to manage their own and theirspouse's healthcare costs as they age.

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They also haven't a clue about what LTC can cost. Survey resultsindicate that 42 percent of middle-income boomers couldn't evenguess what it costs to have a home health aide, and 35 percentcouldn't come up with an average monthly cost of nursing homecare.

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Oh, and 56 percent think that Medicare will take care of it. Itwon't. The program doesn't pay for ongoing long-term care.

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And boomers themselves think they'll start to need help via homemodifications around age 70, with care in a nursing home coming ataround age 84. They have no idea that it's not just a matter ofinstalling a few bars and handrails, at a minimal cost.

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“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates thatboomers will face an average of $138,000 in long-term care costsover the course of their lifetime,” says Scott Goldberg, presidentof Bankers Life.

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“These large sums can negatively impact the financial securityof retirees, as well as take an emotional and financial toll ontheir loved ones,” Goldberg adds. “Even if pre-retirees and boomershave taken steps to build a financial plan for their retirementincome, they should not consider their plans complete until theydiscuss retirement care. This includes their wishes for how andwhere they want to receive care, and how to pay for it.”

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.