What is Long Term Care?

  • Long Term Care is ongoing personal assistance for an individual who needs help performing at least two activities of daily living as the result of an accident, illness or aging, or requires substantial supervision by another individual due to severe cognitive impairment.
  • Most people receive care in their homes, and most care is provided by family and friends. However, in many cases professional help or moving to a nursing or assisted living facility is necessary.
  • On average, a caregiver provides care for 4.3 years. Care recipients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may require care for up to 10+ years.

How does this impact me?

Most of us will eventually need assistance, provide assistance, or both.

  • Long Term Care isn’t just about the elderly. About 40% of care recipients are people under the age of 65 who have suffered an accident or illness.
  • Family members are often far away or busy with other responsibilities and careers, increasing the need for professional help.
  • Long Term Care can be very expensive, costing hundreds to thousands per month for families

How can I determine my potential for needing Long Term Care?

Consider the following factors when assessing your risk:

  • Age: The older you are or expect to be, the greater the probability that you’ll need care.
  • Marital Status: Single people tend to require more paid care, as they generally have fewer family resources.
  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to need care because they tend to live longer.
  • Lifestyle: Diet, exercise, and other behaviors (riding a motorcycle or smoking, for example) can affect your risk of health problems and accidents.
  • Family Health History: Those who are genetically predisposed to long term illness are more likely to need care.

How do I begin planning for possible Long Term Care needs?

Planning early and wisely is essential, whether you’re planning for your own care or a family member’s. Get started by asking some basic questions:

Sources: Caregiving in the U.S., National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 2004; Guide to Long Term Care Insurance, America’s Health Insurance Plans, July 2004.