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What is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care is a variety of services that includes medical and non-medical care to people who have a chronic illness or disability. Long-term care helps meet health or personal needs. Most long-term care is to assist people with support services such as activities of daily living like dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom. Long-term care can be provided at home, in the community, in assisted living or in nursing homes. It is important to remember that you may need long-term care at any age.

You may never need long-term care. This year, about nine million men and women over the age of 65 will need long-term care. By 2020, 12 million older Americans will need long-term care. 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 people who reach age 65 will likely have a 40 percent chance of entering a nursing home. About 10 percent of the people who enter a nursing home will stay there five years or more.

The cost of long-term care can vary quite a bit depending on what kind of care you need, where you get the care, and where you live. The chart below shows how these costs generally compare with each other.

 
  Help with activities of daily living Help with additional services Help with care needs Range of costs
Community-Based Services Yes Yes No Low to medium
Home Health Care Yes Yes Yes Low to high
In-Law Apartments Yes Yes Yes Low to high
Housing for Aging and Disabled Individuals Yes Yes No Low to high
Board and Care Homes Yes Yes Yes Low to high
Assisted Living Yes Yes Yes Medium to high
Continuing Care Retirement Communities Yes Yes Yes High
Nursing Homes Yes Yes Yes High

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