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What is Long Term Care?

What is Long Term Care?

The most common type of long-term care is personal care—help with everyday activities, also called "activities of daily living." These activities include bathing, dressing, grooming, using the toilet, eating, and moving around—for example, getting out of bed and into a chair.

Long-term care also includes community services such as meals, adult day care, and transportation services. These services may be provided free or for a fee.

People often need long-term care when they have a serious, ongoing health condition or disability. The need for long-term care can arise suddenly, such as after a heart attack or stroke. Most often, however, it develops gradually, as people get older and frailer or as an illness or disability gets worse.

Who Will Need Long-Term Care?

It is difficult to predict how much or what type of long-term care a person might need. Several things increase the risk of needing long-term care.

  • Age.The risk generally increases as people get older.
  • Gender. Women are at higher risk than men, primarily because they often live longer.
  • Marital status. Single people are more likely than married people to need care from a paid provider.
  • Lifestyle. Poor diet and exercise habits can increase a person's risk.
  • Health and family history. These factors also affect risk.

Long Term Care Statistics

Median Annual Cost of Long-Term Care

Adult Day Care (5 days/wk)$18,200
Assisted Living (one-bedroom)$45,000
Homemaker Services (44 hrs/wk)$47,934
In-Home Health Aide (44 hrs/wk)$49,192
Nursing Home (semi-private room)$85,775
Nursing Home (private room)$97,455

Source: Fenworth 2017 Cost of Care Study

How are you going to Fund this Cost?*


70% of people 65 and older will need some kind of long-term care eventually. The obvious question then becomes, who will pay this necessary, but hugely expensive bill?

In a companion survey gauging Americans’ thoughts about long-term care, Genworth found that two-thirds of respondents expected government programs to cover all or part of the costs.

But that’s not going to happen — with a few exceptions.

Medicare does not cover nursing home care except for limited stays after a hospital admission of three days or more. Nor does Medicare pay for in-home care if it’s not skilled nursing care.

Medicaid rules are different for every state. But generally, an individual must have $2,000 or less in assets ($3,000 for a couple) before he or she can be eligible for Medicaid.  

“One thing we see in the survey research is that there’s confusion. I think there’s a lack of education of: How much do things cost? How do they work?” Saunders said.

“It’s really important to be able to plan for one’s long-term care needs, especially as we all begin to age,” he added. “This is starting to become a societal issue. It’s definitely become a silent crisis that is going to need people to act before it gets any worse.”

* Courtesy of

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