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Long Term Care – The Basics

The goal of long-term care (LTC) is not to cure disease or injury, but rather to maximize a person’s independence and functioning.

LTC includes a diverse range of services, including:

  • Home help services
  • Personal and home care aides
  • Skilled nursing at home
  • Adult day care
  • Service flats
  • Home nursing
  • Palliative care

These services are designed to meet not only an individual’s health needs, but also their personal needs such as household chores, errands, meal preparation and money management.

Long-term care becomes necessary when a person needs help with bathing, dressing, grooming, transferring, eating or treating incontinence. These are commonly referred to as activities of daily living. Long-term care may also become necessary due to a cognitive impairment such as memory loss, confusion or disorientation caused by an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The majority of people who need LTC develop this need gradually over time. During the early stages of an illness, a person may only need care a few times a week. Typically, this type of care is provided by family and friends. As the person ages and the disease progresses, the frequency and level of care increases. In some cases, round-the-clock care is needed. This type of care can be very expensive.

Today, more than 15 million Americans receive LTC. Most people who need LTC are 65 or older, but a person can need long-term care at any age. Among those currently receiving long-term care, 40% are between 18 and 64 years old!

Several factors increase your risk of needing long-term care, including:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Marital status
  • family history
  • Way of life

Since women generally live longer than men, they are at greater risk of needing long-term care. Single people are also more likely to need LTC due to the absence of a caregiver spouse.

It is difficult to determine how much long-term care a person may need, but on average, a person in need of long-term care receives care for about 2.5 years. Women generally need care for 3.5 years, compared to just over two years for men. Of those in long-term care, about one in five will need care for more than five years! Once an individual begins to receive long-term care, they usually never recover.

LTC costs vary widely depending on the type and amount of care you need and the provider you use. In Central Florida, the average cost for some of the different levels of care is:

  • Private room at the retirement home: $207 per day
  • Semi-private room at the retirement home: $187 per day
  • Assisted living: $2,726 per month
  • Home help: $18 per hour
  • Household help services: $17 per hour
  • Adult day services: $57 per day

A year of home care, assuming the periodic need for home help, would cost nearly $18,000 per year. Your potential annual expense for a private room in a nursing facility would cost $76,000. Combine that with an average need for long-term care and the total potential expense would be $45,000 for home care and $190,000 for a nursing home! And that’s in today’s dollars.

For most of us, SLDs are a very real and expensive possibility. To help protect you and your family from these rising costs, contact your local LTC specialist to structure a long term care insurance policy to suit your needs.

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