Everyone should discuss long-term care.

There are many topics that are unpleasant to talk about but that must be discussed anyway. Near the top of that list is the cost of long-term health care. Considering that two of three adults over 65 will require long-term care at some point and that the average annual cost is $87,600, according to Genworth, the nation’s #1 seller of LTC insurance, it’s a conversation we avoid at our own peril.

Talking about your future need for long-term care — and how to pay for it — is the first step in creating a viable plan. Yet few people want to discuss it, according to Genworth’s recent survey. In fact, most would rather get a root canal, the study found.

Why the reluctance to talk about LTC? More than 60% of adults admit to feelings of anxiety and fear, sadness and depression, confusion or a sense of being overwhelmed, Genworth found. “Think about your parents or grandparents or even yourself. Does anybody want to think about becoming frail or having Alzheimer’s? That’s why we don’t plan.” “We just shut down. It feels overwhelming,” says psychologist Barbara Nusbaum. When there’s no planning, “family crisis, family conflict and much anxiety” are likely to follow, she says.

The good news is that people are more willing to make long-term care plans once they are informed about the cost — and the likelihood that they’ll need it.

Annual Long-Term Care Costs                                         
Homemaker services –  $43,472 – cooking, cleaning and running errands           
Home health aide services – $45,188 – hands-on personal care, but not medical care           
Adult day health care –  $16,900 – social support services, including personal care and transportation, medication management, meals, and personal assistance                       
Assisted living facility – $42,000                                       
Nursing home (semiprivate room) – $77,380
Nursing home (private room) – $87,600

Talking about your (or your parents’) long-term health care needs may not seem like a pleasant task, but an independent, objective, fee-based financial advisors, can smooth the process by talking with your spouse or parents for you. And placing LTC inside a comprehensive plan that meets all your (or your parents’) financial goals can make the issue far easier to digest.

If you think you’ll just take care of your spouse yourself — or that your kids will — you probably need to come up with another strategy. While family members might handle the task, you could be destroying their lives by asking them to do so.

Indeed, according to Genworth:

  • One-third of caregivers devote 30 or more hours of their time each week. The average is 21 hours per week.
  • Nearly two-thirds of caregivers (65%) say they missed work. They worked less (losing income), were late or absent (risking their jobs), lost their jobs outright or had to change careers.
  • Nearly half (46%) said providing care impacted their own health and well-being.
  • One in three (34%) indicated that caregiving negatively impacted their own family life.
  • Three in five (58%) reported spending so much money on care they had to reduce what they spent on meals, clothes and cars. More than a fourth (27%) said that they cut spending on birthdays and anniversaries.