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Understanding Long Term Care

Long Term Care When a loved one suffers an illness, injury or is born with a disability, it is likely that they will need care over an extended period of time. This long-term care often includes help with daily activities such as dressing, bathing and using the bathroom, although it can also include help getting  around town and managing meals, finances or chores. It encompasses a wide array of social and supportive services that are not necessarily focused on curing a particular illness or ailment, but  maintaining an optimum quality of life for that person.

Although many people relate long-term care to seniors and end-of-life care, long-term care may be necessary for people of any age if they suffer trauma, an injury or have a chronic illness that prevents them from completing their activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). In fact, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance:

  • 63 percent of the persons needing long-term care are elderly, while the remaining 37 percent are under the age of 65.
  • The lifetime probability of becoming disabled in at least two ADLs or becoming cognitively impaired is 68 percent for people 65 and older.

ADLs are activities such as bathing, dressing, eating and using the bathroom, which means that those who provide long-term care in this way are involved in the most intimate aspects of a person's life. IADLs include tasks such as housework, preparation and cleaning up after meals, administering medication, shopping, managing money, caring for pets and running errands. While slightly less intimate, these tasks are also highly personal to many people and are held dear.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2008, 21 million people had a condition that caused them to require help with their personal and healthcare. The FCA predicts that by 2050, the number of individuals who use paid long-term care services in any setting will double - from 13 million people using services in 2000 to 27 million people.

The official U.S. Medicare website suggests that all people plan for the possibility of long-term care by exploring options for services. They should then determine how much they would be able to pay for long-term care and find financing options that would be able to support these needs.

A Prudential Financial Inc. long term care cost study notes that 74% of consumers ages 55 to 65 polled said they are concerned about needing some kind of long term care. That's about three in every four of Americans. But in most cases, this consumer concern has not been translated into action. In the Prudential study, 25% of all consumers admitted that they have no idea what a day in a nursing home costs. And only 22% of the participants mentioned the idea of using private long term care insurance to pay for care.

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