"The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that those age 65 and older have a 70% chance of needing long-term care services at some point. And many people are also aware of the need to address this issue: 63% of Americans say they need long-term care insurance, according to the 2014 Insurance Barometer Study that Life Happens and LIMRA conducted. However—and here’s the catch—only 13% own it."

Individuals who require long-term care are generally not sick in the traditional sense, but instead, are unable to perform two of the six activities of daily living (ADLs) such as:

  • Dressing

  • Bathing

  • Eating

  • Toileting

  • Continence

  • Transferring & Walking (getting in and out of a bed/chair)

Age is not a determining factor in needing long-term care. About 70 percent of individuals over age 65 will require at least some type of long-term care services during their lifetime. About 40% of those receiving long-term care today are between 18 and 64. Once a change of health occurs, long-term care insurance may not be available. Early onset (before age 65) Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease are rare but do occur.

Long-term care is an issue because people are living longer. As people age, many times they need help with everyday activities of daily living or require supervision due to severe cognitive impairment. This impacts women even more since women often live longer than men and by default, they become caregivers to others.

Many people mistakenly think long-term care is synonymous with nursing home care, but it’s just one of the many settings in which long-term care is delivered. In fact, most long-term care service are provided at home by a visiting nurse or a home health aide, for example.

Long-term care services are also provided in places like assisted living facilities and adult day care centers. Because long-term care insurance policies may differ in what they cover, it’s important to be familiar with the different locations where you can receive care.

As with most kinds of personal insurance, the younger you are when you purchase long-term care insurance, the lower your premiums will be. Once you own a policy, premiums generally don’t increase with age, unless an insurance company raises them for a whole class of policyholders.

Long-term care services, whether provided in a nursing home or in your house, can cost a considerable amount. But prices vary widely throughout the country due to cost of living differences, state and local regulations, and other factors.

Long-Term Care 101

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