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Do Seniors Understand Their Risk of Moving to a Nursing Home?

Authors

  • Donald H. Taylor Jr.,

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    • Address correspondence to Donald H. Taylor, Jr., Ph.D., M.P.A., Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Center for Health Policy, Law and Management, 125 Old Chemistry Building, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708. Jan Osterman, Ph.D., is Research Associate and S. Will Acuff, B.S., is Research Analyst with the Center for Health Policy, Law and Management, Duke University, Durham, NC. Truls Østbye, Ph.D., M.D., is Professor of Community and Family Medicine, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University, Durham, NC.

  • Jan Osterman,

  • S. Will Acuff,

  • Truls Østbye


Abstract

Objective. To determine whether seniors understand their risk of moving to a nursing home.

Data Sources. We used longitudinal data from the Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD) database. AHEAD is a nationally representative survey (n=8,203) of community dwellers aged 70+ years and their spouses.

Study Design. We followed respondents for 5 years from the date of the first interview fielded in 1993. Our primary dependent variable was whether respondents moved to a nursing home within 5 years of baseline; self-assessed probability of moving to a nursing home within 5 years, also assessed at baseline, was the primary explanatory variable.

Principal Findings. We found that seniors who believed they were more likely to move to a nursing home within 5 years were indeed more likely to do so, and that most elders overestimated their likelihood of moving to a nursing home.

Conclusions. Low rates of private long-term care insurance are not plausibly a result of seniors underestimating their personal risk of moving to a nursing home; such an assumption is inherent in many strategies to plan for the future long-term care needs of the baby boom generation.

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