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What is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care is a range of services and supports you may need to meet your personal care needs. Most long-term care is not medical care, but rather assistance with the basic personal tasks of everyday life, sometimes called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as:

  • Bathing

  • Dressing

  • Toileting

  • Transferring (to or from bed or chair)

  • Continence

  • Eating

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Who need Care?

Recent research suggests that most Americans turning age 65 will need long-term care services at some point in their lives.

Age

  • The older you are, the more likely you will need long-term care

Gender

  • Women outlive men by about five years on average, so they are more likely to live at home alone when they are older

Disability

  • Having an accident or chronic illness that causes a disability is another reason for needing long-term care

  • Between ages 40 and 50, on average, eight percent of people have a disability that could require long-term care services

  • 69 percent of people age 90 or more have a disability

Health Status

  • Chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure make you more likely to need care

  • Your family history such as whether your parents or grandparents had chronic conditions, may increase your likelihood

  • Poor diet and exercise habits increase your chances of needing long-term care

Living Arrangements

  • If you live alone, you’re more likely to need paid care than if you’re married, or single, and living with a partner

Who will provide your Care?

Long-term care services and support typically come from:

  • An unpaid caregiver who may be a family member or friend

  • A nurse, home health or home care aide, and/or therapist who comes to the home

  • Adult day services in the area

  • A variety of long-term care facilities

A caregiver can be your family member, partner, friend or neighbor who helps care for you while you live at home. About 80 percent of care at home is provided by unpaid caregivers and may include an array of emotional, financial, nursing, social, homemaking, and other services. On average, caregivers spend 20 hours a week giving care. More than half (58 percent) have intensive caregiving responsibilities that may include assisting with a personal care activity, such as bathing or feeding.

Do Public Programs pay for Long-Term Care services?

The facts may surprise you

Consumer surveys reveal common misunderstandings about which public programs pay for long-term care services. It is important to clearly understand what is and isn’t covered.

Medicare

  • Only pays for long-term care if you require skilled services or rehabilitative care:

    • ​In a nursing home for a maximum of 100 days. However, the average Medicare covered stay is much shorter (22 days).

    • At home if you are also receiving skilled home health or other skilled in-home services. Generally, long-term care services are provided only for a short period of time.

  • Does not pay for non-skilled assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL), which make up the majority of long-term care services

  • You will have to pay for long-term care services that are not covered by a public or private insurance program

 

Medicaid

  • Does pay for the largest share of long-term care services, but to qualify, your income must be below a certain level and you must meet minimum state eligibility requirements

  • Such requirements are based on the amount of assistance you need with ADL

  • Other federal programs such as the Older Americans Act and the Department of Veterans Affairs pay for long-term care services, but only for specific populations and in certain circumstances

Health Insurance

  • Most employer-sponsored or private health insurance, including health insurance plans, cover only the same kinds of limited services as Medicare

  • If they do cover long-term care, it is typically only for skilled, short-term, medically necessary care

Conclusion

According to the Administration on Aging, 69% of all seniors will need on average three years of long-term care at some point in their life. With long-term care costs currently ranging from $20 an hour for homemaker services to $7,698 per month for a private room in a nursing home, the expenses add up quickly and could wipe out retirement savings altogether.

Just as there are many kinds of long-term care services and supports, so is there a wide range of costs for them. And while some people may qualify for a public program to help pay for these expenses, most people use a variety of options, including long-term care insurance, personal income and savings, life insurance, annuities and reverse mortgages to ensure they can pay for the care they require. As our population ages, new financial products are offering yet more options.

We are Financial Professionals who can help you plan for retirement years with confidence while removing financial stress from your loved ones. Just simply give us a call or email us to schedule for a proper planning. 

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