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Good Question: Who Takes Care Of Us When We Get Older?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A new study from the University of Minnesota finds we vastly underestimate the amount of help we'll need later in life.

Researchers found only 40 percent of us think we'll need long-term care when, in reality, 70 percent of us do.

So, who takes care of us when we get older? Good Question.

Of those who will need care long-term, 80 percent of it will be unpaid and provided at home.

Carrie Henning-Smith researches aging and disability at the University of Minnesota.

"The average person getting long-term care is getting it from a spouse or a child or a sibling or a friends or a neighbor," she said.  "I'm talking about any care that people need to do their daily activities."

Children are the majority of unpaid caregivers (52 percent), followed by spouses (27 percent), other relatives (7 percent), neighbors or friends (7 percent) and grandchildren (6 percent).

Of those people who have home care, aides don't come in and help out as much as you'd think.

Fourteen percent of people have home health aides, who cost an  average of $21 per hour. About 10 percent of people live in an assisted living facility.

At any given time, 4 percent of people over 65 live in a nursing home. That jumps to 11 percent for those older than 85. But, over the course of a lifetime, about half of us will spend some time in and out of a nursing home.

"Most people who need long term care will end up cobbling together unpaid care," Henning-Smith said. "Sometimes, they might end up in nursing home, they might use a home health care aide."

Henning-Smith also said that our population is getting increasingly older and the birth rate has gone down, so there will be fewer young people to take care of older parents.

So these conversations are really important, especially when nursing home care can cost $80,000 to $90,000 a year.

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