Long-Term Care – Understanding the Reality

It is hard to avoid hearing about long-term care these days. It’s time to understand the reality and consequences of your future aging. The impact on family and finances is life changing. Planning makes it easier and protects savings.

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Long-Term Care – Understanding the Reality
5 Min Read December 22nd, 2020 Updated:October 13th, 2022

Long-term care is an all-inclusive term that refers to a variety of medical and everyday support services given over a continuous and long period of time. You may think that only older people need long-term care services, but that’s not true. Over 43% of people who need these services are below the age of 65. No matter the age, a person requiring long-term health care has many options depending on theirs, finances, and family support.

Permanent and Temporary Care

There are two types of long-term care - permanent and temporary.

Reasons for temporary long-term care that usually lasts weeks or months:

  • Rehabilitation after a hospital stay or a surgical procedure

  • To recover from an illness or injury

Reason for permanent long-term care that lasts months or years are:

  • Permanent disability

  • Chronic medical condition 

  • Chronic severe pain

  • Need for help with everyday tasks and activities

  • Cognitive impairment caused by dementia, Alzheimer’s, or brain injury

Reasons People Require Extended Care

Sometimes the need for long-term care is instant, like right after a car accident, heart attack, or a stroke. However, when a person gets frail during old age, or some illness or disability worsens, then also they may need it.

The statistics accurately depict the growing importance of eldercare and its impact on American families and finances. It can be difficult to tell who will need this service and for how long, but the following factors can increase the need for long-term care:

  • Frailty during old age.

  • Women tend to live longer, and the care they need is often twice of men.

  • Single old individuals are more likely to need ongoing care.

  • People who regularly consume a poor diet and lack of exercise are at a higher risk.

  • Sometimes family history of health is also a governing factor.

Types of Available Long-Term Care Options

In-Home Care

Most long-term health care services start at home. Someone in the family customarily provides this type of care, but over time home health aides are usually brought in to provide the care. It often includes services like personal care, nursing services, and housekeeping services.

Rehabilitation services may be performed at home or in a community-based location. However, in-home care may not be feasible, especially if the required medical services are intensive and ongoing.

Adult Day Care Centers

In this type of ongoing care, family caregivers are given a break during the day. Social activities, therapeutic services, meals, and other health care services are offered at a facility or a community-based location during the day as part or full-time service. At night the person is brought home when their needs are less and family caregivers may be available.

Adult Day Care Centers give the informal family caregivers the freedom to work, run errands, and take care of their other responsibilities while also taking a break from the caregiving, which can often be a highly demanding job. Family caregivers often face physical and emotional burdens in their role.

Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities offer help with basic health care and activities of daily living (ADLs). The ADLs include bathing, dressing, toileting, and more.

The services include meal preparation, medication management, and housekeeping in a home-like arrangement. Social activities are an essential part of the community lifestyle. Typically, people will require additional care services as they get older. 

The main aim of these communities is to promote independence and self-sufficiency. You can think of an assisted living facility as a middle road between skilled nursing homes and independent living.

Many luxurious assisted living communities are available that feel more like a vacation resort than a senior living facility.

Memory Care

Alzheimer's' care facilities for seniors are one example of memory care services. Some communities offer memory care and assisted living. However, the two are not synonymous and are quite different from each other. 

The purpose of memory care is to offer ongoing assistance to people in need of vigilant care. Generally, it is the seniors suffering from conditions like Dementia or Alzheimer's, both of which impair the person's ability to function properly.

Memory care services provide a structured environment for patients, and the routines are very structured. Round the clock supervision is given in a closed but secure environment.

Skilled Nursing

Skilled nursing centers give 24/7 nursing care and assistance provided by skilled, trained, and licensed professionals. Individuals living in these facilities are often suffering from complex medical conditions and require a high-level of care and assistance.

Licensed nurses and doctors are available 24/7 on-site at all times. Other services include a 24/7 ambulance service to take the patient to the hospital in case of emergency.

Skilled nursing care centers are also suitable for people who need short-term care or long-term extended stays for rehabilitative days. Rehabilitative services to help people regain their lost ability and recover from surgery, injury, disease, or illness are provided on-site.

Costs of Long-Term Care

The cost of long-term care can vary based on what type of facility you pick as well as the location. Location is a huge factor in determining the cost. It can vary from state to state and city to city. While it is a natural assumption that living in a long-term care community is expensive, 'in-home long-term care' often becomes much more costly depending on the person's needs and how many hours of paid care is required. 

To determine the exact cost, you can use a bunch of calculators online. Here's one for you. Of all, memory care facilities are the most expensive, but they are also the most comprehensive, given that you receive 24-hour supervised care. 

In 2022, the average monthly cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home was $7,812. The monthly cost of a private room in a nursing home was approximately $8,854. For an assisted living facility, the monthly base cost was about $4,149. In-home care is also expensive with a monthly cost of $4,671 (based on a 44-hour week.

Those costs are increasing due to inflation, higher demand, and increased labor costs.

How to Pay for Long-Term Health Care

Below are a few ways to finance your future long-term care situation:

  • You can use your personal funds that include savings, income from stocks, and pension.

  • Health insurance programs by the government like Medicaid will cover long-term care but require you to have little or no assets. 

  • Medicare does not cover long-term care, but it will cover a limited number of days of skilled facility care.

  • Long-Term Care Insurance 

  • Veteran's benefits

  • Accelerated Death Benefits

  • Hybrid Long-Term Care Plans (life/LTC and Annuity/LTC)

It is never too early or too late to start thinking about how you would address the costs and burdens that come with long-term care. The earlier you start planning gives you the most affordable options.

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About the Author

Holly Klamer is a seasoned writer who loves to create content related to aging issues and everything to do with senior living. She is a frequent contributor to many top online publications including Assisted Living Near Me, where she creates content that is specific to assisted living for older adults, as well as SeniorLivingFacilities.net, where she writes about common issues affecting senior citizens and provides senior living advice.

LTC News Contributor Holly Klamer

Holly Klamer

Contributor since December 23rd, 2020

Editor's Note

For many American families, affordable Long-Term Care Insurance is the planning solution for the future costs and burdens of aging. When there is no advance plan in place, the family goes into crisis mode. You can avoid a family crisis by putting an LTC policy in place, ideally in your 40s or 50s, when you have the most affordable options. 

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Most people obtain coverage in their 50s when their overall good health and age give them lower premiums and more options. Several top insurance companies offer long-term care products; you can review the top companies on LTC NEWS - Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance.

Be sure to work with a qualified and experienced specialist to help you navigate all the available options. Premiums vary dramatically between companies, but Long-Term Care Insurance is regulated. Insurance companies must file their products and pricing with the state's insurance department. The underwriting criteria and pricing, however, vary depending on the company. The specialist can provide quotes from all the top companies and help match you with the right company and the best value.

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LTC NEWS offers multiple tools and resources to help you research the financial costs and burdens of aging so you can find an affordable solution. 

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS by clicking here.

One of the best tools is the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator. You can find the current and future costs of long-term health care where you live. This information will help you design an appropriate LTC Insurance policy.

How About Elderly Parents?

If your older parents or family members are declining and need help now, what can you do to help? You can get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether or not a person has an LTC policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News

If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea. 

LTC NEWS has put together several comprehensive guides to help you find help for your loved ones - 

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Mike Banner, LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew," can answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages. 

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