At its most basic level – what is long-term care?
Long-Term Care is what people don’t talk about the most. It is the invisible elephant in the room, ignored, yet hugely important. It’s very natural to avoid talking about things that are uncomfortable – like getting old and needing care, and how to pay for it. The goal of this exploration is to promote understanding and multiple dialogues. Hopefully, there will be numerous “Oh, my goodness” and “Wow, I didn’t know that” moments. Ultimately, I hope you will, if I am successful, come to appreciate the need for a plan and will take action to protect yourself and your family.
Let’s start with a very basic question. What is Long-Term Care? For economy it will be referred to as “LTC” from here on. A frequently used description of LTC is the ongoing care provided to someone who needs help with basic day to day “activities of daily living” such as bathing, toileting, dressing and such. Notice that I did not mention nursing homes or old people. That’s because, despite the frequent misconception that LTC is only provided to seniors in nursing homes, to quote from an old song “It ain’t necessarily so”. In fact, according to some studies, over 65% of LTC is provided outside of a nursing home setting, and over 40% of people currently receiving care are ages 18 to 64.
LTC is custodial care, to be distinguished from clinical or rehabilitative care provided by a medical practitioner. LTC involves assistance, either hands-on or stand-by. It is usually necessitated by a physical infirmity, which may result from a medical event such as a stroke, a condition such as Parkinson’s disease, or it may simply be due to frailty associated with old age. Let’s face reality: if we’re lucky and don’t die, we live a long life and get old. More and more of us are. Seniors 65+ represents the fastest growing segment of our population.
You may have heard that over 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 each day. Currently about twenty-six percent of the US population are boomers, with the majority females. About two-thirds of boomers are married. Boomers are very aware that they are likely to live longer than their parents. However, oddly enough, according to a 2016 United Health Foundation report, boomers are generally in poorer health, due to aging with higher rates of obesity and diabetes.
When we get old, eventually we are very likely to need care.
Adding fuel to the fire, the area seeing the greatest inflationary impact is in the world of modern medicine and health care.