What is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care is the assistance needed when a person is unable to manage their own personal care needs or when they need help with daily activities.

This type of care is called custodial care and may be required due to a chronic illness or disability, but could also be from memory loss.


What is Custodial Care?

Custodial Care is non-medical care that helps people with their basic daily needs such as walking, bathing, eating, dressing and using the toilet. This type of care is often recommended by licensed medical personnel, but providers of custodial care are not required to be medical professionals.

Does Medicare Cover Custodial Care?

No, Medicare only pays for long-term care if you need skilled services or rehabilitative care. Medicare does not pay for non-skilled assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL), which make up the majority of long-term care services.


Who Needs Long-Term Care?

The need for care generally falls into these two categories:

Physical Impairment

When someone requires assistance with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) such as: walking, bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting and transferring.


Cognitive Impairment

May be caused by Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. An individual may be able to physically take care of their Activities of Daily Living, but forget to turn off the stove or cannot remember where they live.


How Many People Need Long-Term Care?

➤ Those turning age 65 today have about a 70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care in their lifetime.

➤ Women need care longer (3.7 years) than men (2.2 years). The average length of time people need long-term care services is 3 years.

➤ One-third of people may never need long-term care, but 20 percent will need it for longer than 5 years.1

➤ Not only seniors need long-term care. Over 35 percent of people currently receiving long-term care services are between 18 and 64.2

Personal Factors Increasing Your Risk

Age – The older you are, the more likely it is you will need assistance.

Living Alone – If you live alone it is more likely you will need paid care. It is less likely if you live with a spouse or partner.

Gender – Women are more likely to need long term care than men. Mostly because women live 5 years longer than men on average.

Lifestyle – Poor diet and exercise habits increase the chance of needing care.

Personal History – Health and family history can increase the chances of needing long term care.

Long-Term Care Settings

Nursing Homes – This is a setting which provides 24-hour care. There are options for private rooms but semi-private rooms are most common. Over 40 percent of all long term care is provided in a nursing home.

Assisted Living – Assisted living facilities are for people who need minor assistance due to cognitive impairment or with their activities of daily living. These facilities can be a very good alternative to nursing homes and often provide many activities for their residents. Residents can have their own apartment where they may be able to bring their own furniture.

Home Health Care – A home health care provider visits your home for a few hours or up to 24 hours per day.

Adult Day Care – Adult Day Care Facilities are for those who have caregivers at home. Adult day care provides care while the primary caregiver goes to work or attends to personal matters such as shopping or banking. This option can help to keep the patient out of a nursing home.

1. 2024 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (www.longtermcare.acl.gov), site accessed 04/02/2024
2. Family Caregiver Alliance (www.caregiver.org), site accessed 04/02/2024

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