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Long-Term Care (LTC)

Quick Answer

Long-term care addresses the medical and non-medical needs of individuals with chronic illnesses, disabilities, or dementia who cannot care for themselves. Long-term care is legally defined as care expected to last at least 90 days. Long-term care is often abbreviated as "LTC" and may also be referred to as "long-term health care."

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Detailed Answer

Long-term care consists of various services to help individuals with personal care needs. Personal care can help those with chronic illness, accidents, mobility issues, dementia, or aging.

Most long-term health care isn't medical; instead, it's custodial. Custodial care is help with everyday living activities or supervision.

There are several different types of facilities and services associated with long-term care. Individuals often have several choices of how they'd like to receive care, depending on their needs.

A few common options for long-term health care are:

  • In-home care
  • Adult day care centers
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Memory facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospice care

Long-term health care focuses on custodial care. This often includes supervision due to cognitive decline and help with activities of daily living (ADLs).

Activities of daily living can include bathing, eating, transferring, toileting, continence, and dressing. There are also instrumental ADLs, including cooking, cleaning, transportation, laundry, telephone use, money management, and medication management.

In addition to these personal care needs, professional skilled medical services can be included in long-term care. These include physical, speech, and occupational therapy.

Long-term health care looks different for everyone. Individuals can choose which type of care works best for their situation. Some people may need more intensive care than others. Typically a trained nurse will help you design a care plan.

Unfortunately, long-term health care can be expensive. Traditional health insurance, including Medicare and supplements, will only pay for a limited amount of skilled nursing services. This does not include help with custodial care. Medicaid only covers long-term care services for those with little or no income and assets.

To help this issue, some insurance companies offer Long-Term Care Insurance. Individuals with LTC Insurance pay a premium for a designated amount of benefits. These benefits pay for in-home or facility long-term health care services.

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