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Future of Retirement: Surprisingly Optimistic

Financial products, he says, need to do a better job of realizing this trend, but there is often "a disconnect." Many existing insurance policies, for example, will pay only a chronic care benefit for those in a nursing home or who hire professional caregivers for home-based care.

"But that's not the way care is done in the United States," Diehl says. "Even for Alzheimer's disease, care is being provided by the 'sandwich generation" and grandchildren. Gradually, insurance companies are catching up to this reality, but they are still generally behind and most products do not allow this sort of flexibility."

Retirement plans are changing
Executives at Lincoln Financial Group (LNC - Get Report) recently looked at what they see as the top retirement trends, many of which will affect 2012.

Chuck Cornelio, president of retirement plan services for Lincoln Financial, predicts fee disclosure regulations, in-plan guarantees, target date strategies and retirement planning optimism will be among the significant trends affecting the retirement plan industry in the months, and possibly years, ahead.

"We see greater interest in employer-sponsored retirement plan savings and investment options that offset volatility, include guarantees and offer flexibility," Cornelio says. "In this new era of fee disclosure, plan providers are increasing their emphasis on demonstrating the value of their services."

He also thinks that an "optimistic approach" to meeting retirement goals will be more of a focus than the traditional savings push that paints a bleak future of an inadequate nest egg.

"People are tired of being scared or berated into saving and many are simply overwhelmed by the thought of even getting started," he says, stressing the importance of "positive encouragement and reinforcement."

Fee disclosure regulation continues to be a topic at the forefront for the industry, Cornelio says.

"Transparency is a good thing," he says, and additional information will "lead to better investment and saving decisions."

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