Understanding Long Term Care

What is long term care?

Long term care is the medical and social services term for helping people who develop disabilities or chronic care needs. Services may be brief with full recovery, or they can continue for years. Most long term care is by definition custodial care which is nonmedical assistance with activities of daily living such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating or using the toilet.

Care may be required due to physical impairment or cognitive impairment. The effects of Alzheimer’s, strokes, diabetes, auto accidents, sporting accidents and dementia commonly trigger the need for long term care services.

Long term care can be received at home, in an assisted living facility or skilled nursing facility.

Who needs long term care?

As we age, it becomes more likely we will need long term care services. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 70% of people turning age 65 can expect to use some form of long term care during their lives. The risk is also significant for working age adults as 42% of the 13 million people receiving long term care services are between the ages of 18 and 64.

How long will you need care?

By gender, women need care for 3.7 years while men average 2.2 years of long term care. Consider that one-third of today’s 65 year olds may never need long term care services, but 20 percent will need it for longer than 5 years.