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How Can Adult Children Influence Parents' Long-Term Care Insurance Purchase Decisions?

Sperber NR, Voils CI, Coe NB, Konetzka RT, Boles J, Van Houtven CH. How Can Adult Children Influence Parents' Long-Term Care Insurance Purchase Decisions? The Gerontologist. 2017 Apr 1; 57(2):292-299.

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Purpose of the Study: Long-term care (LTC) poses a significant strain on public health insurance financing. In response, there is policy interest in bolstering the private long-term care insurance (LTCI) market. Although families are central to LTC provision, their role in LTCI demand remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to obtain in-depth information concerning: (a) How do older parents evaluate the need for LTCI, (b) what role do adult children play? and (c) How do families communicate about parents' LTC preferences and plans, including LTCI purchase? Design and Methods: We conducted focus groups with older parents and adult children in diverse markets. Two groups were conducted with older parents who had purchased LTCI and two with parents who had not purchased LTCI. Four groups were conducted with adult children, mixed as to whether their parents had purchased LTCI. Probes were informed by published reasons for purchasing or not purchasing LTCI. We analyzed transcriptions using directed content analysis and constant comparative method. Results: Older parents valued autonomy for themselves and their children. Older parent purchasers regarded LTCI as supporting this value while nonpurchasers perceived limitations. Adult children described unstated expectations that they would care for their parents. Though discussions between parents and children about LTCI were rare, successful influence occurred when children appealed to shared values, specifically avoiding burden and remaining home. Implications: Messages that emphasize autonomy over LTC decisions and interventions that start the LTC conversation among families, with attention to shared values, could increase private LTCI uptake.

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