Long-term care (LTC) is a variety of services which help meet both the medical and non-medical needs of people with a chronic illness or disability who cannot care for themselves for long periods of time.
It is common for long-term care to provide custodial and non-skilled care, such as assisting with normal daily tasks like dressing, and using the bathroom. Increasingly, long-term care involves providing a level of medical care that requires the expertise of skilled practitioners to address the often multiple chronic conditions associated with older populations. Long-term care can be provided at home, in the community, in assisted living facilities or in nursing homes. Long-term care may be needed by people of any age, although it is more commonly needed for senior citizens.
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What are the Odds?
Life expectancy is going up in most countries, meaning more and more people are living longer and entering an age when they may need care. Meanwhile birth rates are generally falling. The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that about 9 million American men and women over the age of 65 needed long-term care in 2006, with the number expected to jump to 12 million by 2020.It is anticipated that most will be cared for at home; family and friends are the sole caregivers for 70 percent of the elderly. A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that four out of every ten people who reach age 65 will enter a nursing home at some point in their lives. About 10 percent of the people who enter a nursing home will stay there five years or more.
Levels of Care and Costs:
Long Term Care services and providers have evolved over the last 20-years into several levels of care as indicated by the chart above. At different stages of your senior years different levels of services may be required. Most of these costs are not covered by Medicare or health insurance. To qualify for Medicaid one must be impoverished with no more than $2,000.00 of assets. Most states also have a limit on the amount of income you receive to qualify for Medicaid. Therefore, even though you have used up all your assets for the cost of your care you still may not qualify for Medicaid.
Many people are therefore taking out Long Term Care Insurance policies to cover the cost of this care which can range from $6,000.00 to $8,000.00 a month depending on the level of care and area where you live. Another alternative that people are planning for is moving to a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) where several levels of care are provided when you need it and until you do need it, you live independently.
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