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Will I Need Long-Term Care?

Long-term care is not like traditional medical care. It goes well beyond medical treatment, extending to helping people cope in the face of a chronic illness or disability.

People need long-term care for a number of reasons.

  • They might be recovering from a serious illness or accident.

  • They might simply be going through the natural, but sometimes debilitating, process of getting older.
  • Long-term care services are needed by individuals unable to perform the “activities of daily living” (ADLs), such bathing, dressing, getting from a bed to a chair, toileting and eating.

  • They might become cognitively impaired as a result of senile dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
What Do the Statistics Say?

You may never need long-term care. But about 19 percent of Americans aged 65 and older experience some degree of chronic physical impairment. Among those aged 85 or older, the proportion of people who are impaired and require long-term care increases to about 55 percent.

In the year 2020, it is projected that 12 million older Americans are expected to need long-term care. Most will be cared for at home by family members and friends.

A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates that people age 65 face at least a 40 percent lifetime risk of entering a nursing home sometime during their lifetime. About 10 percent will stay there five years or longer. And Because women typically outlive men by several years, they face a 50 percent greater likelihood than men of entering a nursing home after age 65.

While older people are certainly more likely to need long-term care than younger people, one's need for long-term care can come at any age. In fact, the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that 40 percent of the 13 million people receiving long-term care services are between the ages of 18 and 64.





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