What is Long Term Care
Long term care is a specialized type of health-related care which is given for an extended period of time. This is the kind of care a person needs when he or she, is not able to perform the regular daily activities like, eating, dressing, using the toilet etc. by themselves. This inability can be caused by various reasons, like chronic conditions, severe injury or old age problems.
Long term care should not be confused with regular medical care. The purpose of this type of care is to provide physical support and supervision to the individual but not curing the condition. It aims to make the patient as comfortable as possible and let him maintain certain amount of independence and dignity. Long term care comprises of the total coordinated care requirements of the patient in need of this type of care. Patients suffering from mental conditions also need long term care.
Types of Long Term Care
All forms of long term care ultimately aim at providing support to the ailing person for an extended period of time. However, conditions of patients are different – levels of assistance required are also different. Based on the level of assistance required, long term care can be broadly divided into –
- Medical Long-Term care
- Non-medical Long-Term Care
Medical Long-Term Care
This type of care refers to the conditions which have a long period of recovery or are chronic. These include the care for patients recovering from fractures or falls, severe cardiovascular conditions, kidney or liver diseases, serious surgeries etc. The care needs to be coordinated with the actual medical treatment administered earlier to make the patient regain normal functioning as much as possible.
Non-medical Long-Term Care
This type refers more to the physical assistance and supervision given to old-age people who are not necessarily suffering from any particular condition.Physical help is provided to these people to carry out their personal daily activities, like,dressing or using the toilet or running errands and doing household chores.
Activities of Daily Living
The personal activities of self-care are referred to as activities of daily living. The inability to perform these activities are regarded as the basis of eligibility for receiving long term care insurance benefits. Apart from these, there are other daily or household chores which a person needs to lead a normal life, like – grocery shopping, paying bills, cleaning the house, cooking etc. These are referred to as instrumental activities of daily living.
Where is Long Term Care Provided
Since the needs of individuals are different, long term care is provided in various settings.
- Long term care services at home
- Community-based long-term care
- Skilled nursing facility
- Assisted living facility
- Adult day care centers
If circumstances allow, the best option for an individual is to get care at home within the familiar surroundings. At home, care may be provided by family members, friends or professional home health aides.
Who Needs Long Term Care
We never want to think ourselves in a position where we have to take long term care services. However, when you consider the statistics of people who need long term care, you realize the gravity of the situation.It has been estimated in a study that about 70 % of people older than 65 will need some form of long term care during their lifetime.
Old age is undoubtedly the most common factor which makes people need long term care. Some other factors include single marital status, family history of serious diseases, low-income status, low-level of education etc. When a person is single or has no children or spouse to take care, he or she will need some long-term care service, people with low incomes or education levels are more likely to need long term care services.
The need for long term care can arise for anyone, young or old. When a 20-year-old suffers from some congenital condition, long term care may be needed, when a 40-year-old man is involved in a severe accident he will need long term care during his long recovery period. So, even though the elderly people are the most likely to need long term care, this kind of care can be needed by anyone at any stage of life.
The Costs for Long Term Care Services
Long term care services come at a steep price. Of course, it depends on the setting where the care is administered. Home care is definitely much less expensive than care at a skilled nursing home. The costs may also vary by geographical area. The charges for stay at an assisted living facility in the New York area would be higher than any small town.So, the factors which determine the costs of long term care are –
- Setting where long term care is received
- The type of care received – whether medical or non-medical
- Duration of care received
- Geographical location where care is received
Care received at community-based centers are the least expensive followed by home health care. Stay at retirement communities and skilled nursing homes are the highest in costs. The national median for a private room in a nursing-home is $267 per day, the median cost for a one-bedroom private unit in an assisted living facility is $3,750 monthly, home health aides may charge about $135 while stay at a community-based center may cost about $70 daily.
Why to Plan for Long Term Care
It is evident by now that it is absolutely necessary to plan as to how you will manage long term care costs if needed. You never know when you might need long term care and when you do the costs could be unaffordable. In absence of family members who can provide care or if your condition requires medical supervision constantly, you will have to move to some long-term care facility.
With the advancement of medical science, people are living longer. So, the possibility of needing assistance due to geriatric issues is increasing. Also, it is becoming more and more difficult for working adults to take care of their elderly parents on an extended period with their hectic work schedules.In such situations, the best option is to stay at a long-term care facility.
Advance planning for long term care costs will give you access to better quality care and help to maintain your independence as you do not have to depend on family members either physically or financially. One way to plan for these services is by buying long-term care insurance coverage which covers the cost for these services.
Since you cannot avoid the inevitability of your need for long term care, it is best to accept it and be prepared for it in the best possible way.
More Useful Links:
Long-Term Care Insurance Terms and Options