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.