The Dreaded "C" Word - But Cancer Can Create a Need for Long-Term Care

While a cancer diagnosis is often met with fear, it can also trigger a need for long-term care. This increased dependency can range from assistance with daily tasks to specialized medical support at home or in a facility.

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The Dreaded "C" Word - But Cancer Can Create a Need for Long-Term Care
6 Min Read June 19th, 2024

The mere mention of cancer often evokes a sense of dread and anxiety. It's a diagnosis that many fear, knowing the profound impact it can have on lives. Cancer is not just a single disease but a collection of related illnesses, each affecting the body differently and presenting unique challenges.

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, affecting millions of people each year. In the United States alone, the American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2023, and over 600,000 people will die from the disease.

Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that cancer accounts for approximately 10 million deaths annually, making it one of the most significant health challenges we face.

The National Cancer Institute says the most common types of cancer vary by region but generally include breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women, while lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and colorectal cancer affects both genders significantly.

Navigating Cancer Treatment: Steps to Ensure the Best Care

 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, getting the proper treatment is crucial for a good outcome. Start by seeking a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis. This step ensures that you're on the right path from the beginning.

 

Understanding the specific medical needs associated with your cancer treatment is vital. Always ask questions and bring a loved one with you when meeting with doctors. For older adults, having an adult child or younger family member present can be particularly helpful when reviewing treatment options.

 

Different types of cancer and treatments require various levels of support and care. Seek out facilities specializing in oncology or having a dedicated team experienced with your specific condition. It's essential they offer services like specialized nursing, pain management, and regular monitoring.

 

Ensure the facility can handle any potential complications or side effects from your treatments. Asking about their experience with similar cases can give you confidence that you'll receive the best possible care tailored to your needs.

 

Choosing a hospital or treatment center close to home can reduce stress. When you're undergoing intense cancer treatments, comfort becomes even more critical. 

 

Cancer and Long-Term Care

Yes, cancer can create a need for long-term care. Both the disease itself and its treatments can significantly impact a person's ability to perform daily living activities, necessitating long-term support.

 

Despite the widespread impact of cancer, many people are unaware of how the disease and its treatment can create a need for long-term care services. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can lead to severe side effects that compromise a patient's ability to perform daily activities. These treatments can cause fatigue, cognitive changes, pain, and mobility issues, necessitating ongoing support and care.

 

As we age or face chronic illnesses like cancer, long-term care services become a crucial part of overall healthcare. These multifaceted services go beyond medication to address daily living needs, from personal care to household chores, ultimately improving a patient's quality of life and health outcomes.

Long-term care services are essential for managing the needs of cancer patients, whether at home, in assisted living facilities, or in nursing homes.

 

If your loved one needs long-term care services due to cancer or any other reason, find quality long-term care services by using the LTC NEWS Caregiver Directory - Find Quality Long-Term Care Services Near You.

 

Location Matters

There are times when a cancer patient may need to spend time in a skilled nursing facility while undergoing treatment. A nearby location allows easy access for family and friends, offering emotional support when needed.

 

It also ensures quick visits to your medical team for follow-ups or emergency care. For instance, if you're receiving cancer treatments at Regional Cancer Care in New Jersey, look for facilities in the same vicinity. This proximity can create a supportive treatment journey.

 

Support for Cancer Patients

 

These services provide critical support, ensuring patients receive the necessary medical and personal care while allowing their families to focus on emotional support rather than caregiving duties. Understanding and planning for these potential needs is crucial for ensuring comprehensive care and maintaining a cancer patient's quality of life.

 

Cancer and its progression can lead to various physical and cognitive impairments. Patients may experience severe fatigue, pain, and weakness, making it challenging to perform basic tasks such as bathing, dressing, and eating. The American Cancer Society says that advanced stages of cancer often require constant medical supervision and assistance with mobility and personal care.

 

Many cancer survivors experience long-term effects from their treatment, which can impact their ability to live independently. Long-term care services can play a vital role in helping these individuals manage their daily activities, stay in their homes if possible, and maintain a good quality of life. Effective communication and collaboration between oncologists, geriatricians, and long-term care providers are essential for creating a comprehensive care plan that addresses both the cancer and its long-term effects.

Cancer treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy, can also contribute to the need for long-term care. These treatments often have side effects that can compromise a patient's independence:

  • Chemotherapy: Can cause severe nausea, vomiting, neuropathy, and cognitive changes (often referred to as "chemo brain"), which can impair the ability to manage daily activities.
  • Radiation Therapy: This may lead to skin irritation, fatigue, and long-term damage to nearby organs and tissues, impacting physical functionality.
  • Surgery: Recovery from cancer-related surgeries may involve prolonged periods of immobility, pain management, and rehabilitation, requiring assistance with daily tasks.

Long-term care for cancer patients often involves:

  • Home Health Care: Professional caregivers provide medical and personal care services in the patient's home.
  • Assisted Living: Facilities offer a supportive environment where patients can receive help with daily activities while maintaining some level of independence.
  • Nursing Homes: Nursing homes provide comprehensive services for patients needing more intensive care and medical supervision.

Long-Term Care for Cancer Patients Can Be Costly

Medical care for those facing cancer treatments is costly, and outside of deductibles, health insurance and Medicare will pay for these costs. While some experimental treatments may not be covered, a good portion of medical care will be covered by health insurance.

However, this is not the case for long-term care services. Health insurance and Medicare will only pay for short-term skilled services. Long-Term Care Insurance will pay for these services if the care is expected to last at least 90 days.

Otherwise, the cost of long-term care will be your responsibility, and these costs increase yearly.

Impact of Long-Term Care on Cancer Patients and Their Families

The physical and emotional toll of the disease and its treatment often require comprehensive and sustained support, which can be challenging for families to manage alone. Long-term care services play a crucial role in alleviating this burden by providing specialized care tailored to the needs of cancer patients.

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can lead to severe side effects, including chronic pain, fatigue, and cognitive impairments. These side effects often hinder patients' ability to perform daily activities independently, necessitating ongoing assistance. Managing these side effects is critical for improving patient outcomes and overall well-being.

For families, the emotional and physical strain of caring for a loved one with cancer can be overwhelming. Balancing caregiving responsibilities with work and personal life often leads to caregiver burnout, negatively impacting both the caregiver's and the patient's health. Long-term care services provide respite for family members, allowing them to focus on providing emotional support rather than being consumed by the demands of day-to-day care. This support system helps preserve family relationships and ensures -that caregivers do not neglect their well-being.

The financial burden of long-term care can also be significant. The costs associated with home healthcare, assisted living, and nursing facilities can quickly deplete a family's savings.

Additionally, the logistical aspects of managing long-term care can be complex. Coordinating appointments, managing medications, and ensuring consistent care routines require significant time and organization.

Professional caregivers and long-term care facilities are equipped to handle these challenges, ensuring that cancer patients receive continuous, high-quality care tailored to their evolving needs. This level of care is crucial in managing symptoms effectively and maintaining the patient's highest possible quality of life.

Can You Plan?

How do you plan for cancer? Outside of being proactive with doctors' appointments, nobody can "plan" for cancer. However, you can prepare for long-term care.

Long-term care services are essential for managing the comprehensive needs of cancer patients, ensuring they receive quality care while relieving the emotional and physical burdens on their families. However, you may need long-term care for many other reasons.

Chronic health problems, accidents, mobility problems, dementia, and frailty due to aging all increase your need for long-term care in the future. Aging is the primary reason people need extended care; however, many younger people require care, including as a result of cancer.

Generally, you would get Long-Term Care Insurance in your 40s or 50s, although younger people will consider plans depending on their income and assets, family history, and desire for planning. In states considering the so-called LTC Tax, an LTC policy would be desirable at younger ages if -- for no other reason -- than to avoid the tax, although that would not be considered a primary reason to obtain LTC Insurance.

For those in their 60s and older, affordable options would be available depending on health. LTC Insurance is medically underwritten, so you would generally be unable to obtain coverage if you have poor health or already need care.

If you have had cancer in the past and have completely recovered, most insurance companies would consider you for an LTC policy. Check with an experienced independent Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to review your health with the underwriting requirements of the top insurance companies that offer long-term care solutions.

Cancer is no fun, and aging has its own challenges. Being proactive can help you better prepare for the complications of aging and declining health, including cancer.

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About the Author

Linda Kople is a freelance writer with a personal family history in long-term care. She specializes in aging-related topics such as caregiving, health, and retirement planning. Her experiences and interests drive her to explore and write about the various aspects of aging and health issues.

LTC News Contributor Linda Kople

Linda Kople

Contributor since October 31st, 2017

Editor's Note

Planning for the future seems like a great idea, but many people, perhaps you, put it off for another day. As you approach retirement, planning for future long-term care should be a key component of your financial strategy.

We will generally face health issues as we age. Some of these health problems may not be something like cancer. Yet, chronic health issues, mobility problems, dementia, and even frailty lead to a need for help with daily living activities or supervision.

The likelihood of needing long-term care increases with age, and the associated costs can quickly deplete your savings. Including a Long-Term Care Insurance policy in your retirement plan is a proactive step to protect your assets and ensure you receive quality care without burdening your loved ones.

Long-term care services are expensive and will continue to rise over the years.

Planning helps you avoid the stress and uncertainty that often accompany the need for long-term care services. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 56% of people turning 65 today will require some form of long-term care during their lives. Aging is a genuine concern, and it is expensive!

Just as important, if not most important, an LTC policy alleviates the emotional and physical burden on your family members. Without such a plan, your loved ones might have to take on the role of caregivers, which can be both demanding and overwhelming.

Adding LTC Insurance to your retirement plan allows your family to focus on maintaining relationships with you and providing emotional support rather than being consumed by caregiving duties.

It is best to get a policy when you have reasonably good health; most people do so in their 40s or 50s. However, affordable options can be found in your 60s or older, depending on your health.

If you had previous health issues, like cancer, and have recovered, you may still be able to obtain coverage. However, the sooner you get coverage, the lower the premium; premiums vary dramatically between insurance companies for the same coverage. 

Seek help from a qualified, independent LTC Insurance specialist representing multiple top-rated insurance companies. The specialist will show you accurate quotes from all the companies.

Finding Quality Caregivers in a Few Clicks

Resources like the LTC NEWS Caregiver Directory help those seeking caregivers for older family members. The directory is a free, comprehensive national database with a wide range of long-term care services, simplifying finding qualified caregivers, senior communities, and long-term care facilities. The directory has over 80,000 listings, allowing you to find quality long-term care for your loved one in just a few clicks. 

For those with an LTC policy, LTC NEWS can help process claims from any Long-Term Care Insurance policy. LTC NEWS, in partnership with Amada Senior Care, a nationally recognized in-home healthcare agency, ensures that you and your loved ones receive the quality care you deserve. This service comes at no cost or obligation - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim.

These four LTC NEWS guides will assist you in trying to find appropriate long-term services for a loved one:

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