Long term care (LTC) is extended care that consists of help with activities of daily living (such as dressing and bathing), and/or care needed due to severe cognitive impairment (such as the dysfunction caused by Alzheimer’s disease). This care can be received at home or at a facility such as an assisted living facility or a nursing home.
Many Americans mistakenly believe that they have a slim chance of needing long term care because of their family history, their health, and their lifestyle. They may believe that even in the event they do need care as some point in the future, there will always be a spouse, family member or friend who will be available and able to take care of them easily, without major sacrifice. The facts, however, contradict these beliefs.
None of us can predict exactly when we might need long term care, but statistics show that 70% of people who are now 65 will need this type of care during their lifetimes, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging. In fact, the longer we live, the greater our risk. So, a healthy 55-year-old may have as high a risk of needing long term care as an unhealthy 55-year-old, because the healthy person has the longer life expectancy.
Long term care (LTC) insurance is designed to pay the cost of extended professional care giving. Most long term care is non-medical (custodial) care. Some experts describe LTC as "high-touch,” as opposed to modern medical care, which they describe as "high-tech.” High-touch LTC includes assistance with activities such as taking a bath or moving from bed to a chair. Caring for someone with severe cognitive impairment may be different, requiring supervision to avoid injury or accident, verbal reminders of activities such as eating or dressing, or hands-on assistance.