New research finds a majority of American voters are thinking about their retirement, but not about whether they will need long term care. The national survey, conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), signals a need to educate members of the public about this often-overlooked part of the health care system.

More than three-quarters of Americans (76 percent) said they had thought a lot or some about their living situation in retirement, but only four in 10 (44 percent) thought they would need long term care. The federal government estimates that seven in 10 elderly Americans will need long term care at some point in their lives.

Six in 10 respondents also said they did not currently have a power of attorney or an advance directive (also known as a living will) in place. One-third of Americans believe Medicare will cover most of their health care expenses in retirement, despite the fact that Medicare does not cover long term care services and supports.

“We understand aging is not a topic many Americans want to think or talk about, but the reality is that many of us will need some aspect of long term care in the future,” says NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle. “It’s important that Americans plan for their health care needs and communicate with loved ones about what they desire when that day comes.”

When asked what they would prefer to do if they were no longer able to live on their own, respondents were mostly split between hiring an in-home caregiver (25 percent), moving in with a family member (28 percent), or moving into an assisted living community (28 percent).

Three-quarters of Americans also have a favorable opinion of assisted living communities. When told about some of the services, specialties, and initiatives assisted living communities undertake, respondents’ favorability increased overwhelmingly.

“Many would assume that all Americans want to stay in their home for the rest of their lives, but this research shows that some in fact want the option of residing in an assisted living community,” Tittle says. “They provide consumers a high-quality, low-cost long term care option.”