We also go to great lengths to avoid talking about long term care planning. Of the millions of Americans who qualify (by age and income criteria), only about 10% actually own long term care insurance (LTCi).
In his recent Forbes column (Sept 2018), Howard Gleckman reported on this avoidance behavior. He wrote,
“Americans are unable to plan for a catastrophe, even one we know is coming. Our brains cannot, for some reason, process this. Thus, in the face of an approaching calamity many of us…do nothing.”
There’s a Storm Coming
The residents along the Carolina coastline, for example, were given multiple warnings to evacuate before the arrival of Hurricane Florence. Despite the mandatory evacuation orders, many people chose to ignore the oncoming danger and stayed in their homes.
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, suffered from pancreatic cancer for years. Despite her worsening condition, she never made a will, leaving her $80 million estate vulnerable to hefty taxes before her children receive any inheritance. All because she never faced the need for advanced planning.
When We Avoid Information
“A person should never avoid information, because information can never hurt a decision”, states economist Joshua Tasoff. And yet, we go to great lengths to do just this. Listen to why in this wonderful Hidden Brain podcast.
Denial defies logic. Because it’s strictly emotional.
Mr. Gleckman refers to a book called “The Ostrich Paradox: Why We Underprepare for Disasters“, by Robert J Meyer.
From this book and Mr. Gleckman’s column, here are some reasonable explanations of why we often behave irrationally in the face of coming disaster:
Excessive optimism: They know the storm is coming and still believe that, magically, they will be unharmed. They see an aging population getting older and more frail and still believe that their own experience will somehow be different.
Herd thinking: Nobody else is preparing, so why should I? Saving isn’t sexy. Let’s plan our next exotic vacation!
Myopia: It’s easier to focus on our short term needs and desires. Planning for the long term might require sacrificing our current wants and channeling that money into some prudent investments. That’s inconvenient. (Oh, the stories I could tell you about this one.)
Amnesia: Our minds can block bad memories. We downplay how bad that last storm was. And we forget how hard it was watching our parents get all the care they needed in their later years.
Inertia and simplification: We’ve all experienced “Analysis Paralysis”. Faced with complicated matters, we freeze up and end up making no choice. Unfortunately, the long term care industry is also part of this problems. Policies can be difficult to understand. It’s easier to shove them into the desk drawer, unread and unsigned.
Not even the ostrich buries its head in the sand. Why should you? When you are ready to start taking some proactive steps for your future, click here. You will receive a no-obligation quote on your own Long Term Care insurance plan.