Planning for Long Term Care

Planning for Long Term Care

About 70 percent of people over age 65 require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime. More than 40 percent will need care in a nursing home. Since there is a good chance that you might need long-term care services at some point, it is important to explore your options and plan ahead.

People often put off planning for long-term care because they do not want to think about a time when they might need it. Most people first learn about long-term care when they or a loved one needs care. However, if you wait until you need services to start planning, your options may be limited. You may not be able to find the information you need to make decisions. You may not have the money you need to pay for the services you want. Or you may have to rely on your family or others to make decisions for you.

The Importance of Planning

Planning for long-term care is important because there is a good chance you will need some long-term care services if you live beyond the age of 65. The older you get, the greater the chance that you will need long-term care.

Planning is also important because long-term care can be very expensive, and Medicare and other health insurance programs don’t cover many long-term care services. The cost of long-term care services is often more than what the average person can pay from personal income and savings. Planning ahead gives you the time to save for your long-term care needs or to find the payment options that work best for you if you need services

Planning helps you understand:

  • Services available from your family and in your community
  • Special conditions (such as age or income) that may apply for receiving services
  • Costs of services
  • Public or private payment options available to you

This information helps you understand your options, and makes it more likely that you will be able to get and pay for the services you need and prefer.

Will You Need Long Term Care?

Things that increase your risk or make it more likely that you’ll need long-term care include:

  • Age: The older you get, the more likely it is that you’ll need help.
  • Living alone: If you live alone, you’re more likely to need paid care than if you’re married or single and living with a partner.
  • Gender: Women are more likely to need long-term care than men, primarily because women tend to live longer.
  • Lifestyle: Poor diet and exercise habits increase the chance that you’ll need long-term care.
  • Personal history: Health and family history can increase the chances you’ll need long-term care.

How Much Care Will You Need?

Service and support needs vary from person to person and often change over time.

  • On average, someone who is 65 today will need some type of long-term care services and supports for three years.
  • Women need care longer (on average 3.7 years) than men (on average 2.2 years), mostly because women usually live longer.
  • While about one-third of today’s 65-year-olds may never need long-term care services and supports, 20 percent will need care for longer than 5 years.

If you need long-term care services and supports, you may receive or use one or more of the following:

  • Assistance with personal care or other activities from an unpaid caregiver who may be a family member or friend
  • Services in your home from a nurse, home health or home care aide, therapist, or homemaker
  • Services in the community such as adult day services

Care in any of a variety of long-term care facilities