Who Needs Long-Term Care?

Long-term care is needed when you have a chronic illness or disability that causes you to need assistance with Activities of Daily Living. Your illness or disability could include a problem with memory loss, confusion, or disorientation. (This is called Cognitive Impairment and can result from conditions such as Alzheimers disease.)

This year, about 9 million Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care services. By 2020, that number will increase to 12 million. While most people who need long-term care are age 65 or older, a person can need long-term care services at any age.

  How Do Care Needs Change Over Time?

Many people who need long-term care develop the need for care gradually. They may begin needing care only a few times a week or one or two times a day, for example, help with bathing or dressing. Care needs often progress as you age or as your chronic illness or disability become more debilitating, causing you to need care on a more continual basis, for example help using the toilet or ongoing supervision because of a progressive condition such as Alzheimers disease.

Some people need long-term care in a facility for a relatively short period of time while they are recovering from a sudden illness or injury, and then may be able to be cared for at home. Others may need long-term care services on an on-going basis, for example someone who is disabled from a severe stroke. Some people may need to move to a care home or other type of facility-based setting for more extensive care or supervision if their needs can no longer be met at home.

After an elderly person's capabilities have declined to the point where they need to move into a care home, the move is almost always permanent. When their former home is sold, or its lease terminated, most of the expenses they had been paying for it can then be used to help pay their care home expenses. The money resulting from the sale of their home can be used, for example, to purchase a CD or annuity that pays monthly interest to boost income. Also, since care home fees include all meals, your loved one will no longer have to buy groceries.