Long-term care, or “LTC,” refers to programs and services geared toward helping older adults with the basic activities of daily living. As people get older, certain activities – such as getting out of bed or walking down a flight of stairs – can get increasingly challenging. When this happens, people often find that activities they once took for granted have now become both physically and emotionally draining.
Long-term care services provide seniors a way to stay healthy and active and ensure their basic living requirements are met. The need for long-term care may be temporary – such as during recovery from illness or injury – or ongoing – because of an ongoing physical condition or even dementia.
This may include help with the following activities:
- Personal Care
- Assistance with medical therapy
- Drug administration
- Meal preparation
- Money management
- Bill paying
- Running errands
- Minor repairs
- Pain management
Types of Long-term Care Options
There are many types of long-term care options, depending on the needs and resources of the recipient. Seniors who require the assistance of someone else to help with their physical or emotional needs may obtain services at any of the following locations:
In a nursing home (including skilled nursing, intermediate care, and custodial care)
- In the home of the person receiving care
- In the home of a family member or friend
- In an assisted-living residence
- At an adult day services
Who Needs LTC?
There is no one set criteria for those who may require long-term care. While long-term care is most often needed by seniors over the age of 65, it is also available to younger adults who, because of a chronic illness, disability or other health condition, may require assistance with basic daily living tasks.
Factors that may increase or decrease your chances for requiring LTC include:
- Age; generally age increases the need for LTC assistance
- Gender; women generally require LTC assistance more than men
- Marital status; single people often require more help than a married person
- Lifestyle; eating habits, exercising, smoking, and other factors can increase the chances of needing long-term care
- Health history; people with a history of chronic health diseases often require assistance more than those without
Who Pays for LTC?
Most people with long-term care needs receive unpaid help from family and friends. This includes multigenerational care from children and grandchildren who are sometimes forced to leave their own workforce to help care for an aging parent or grandparent. Medicare pays for long-term care in many settings, including a nursing home or home care situation.
In some cases, long-term care insurance can help pay for care over a certain period of time, although insurance policies often require medical screens and are generally limited to people between the ages of 50 and 84.
Other means of paying for long-term care may include:
- Personal savings
- Veteran’s benefits
- Reverse mortgages
- The Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
If you have legal questions about programs or elder law concerns, talk to an attorney to figure out the right next steps.