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.
What Do the Statistics Say?
- 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.
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
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.